Snake predation on weaver nests

Weaver nests are often very conspicuous, as males (in polygynous species) try to attract more females. This means that the nests are also more visible to predators. Weavers counter-act this by placing nests in less accessible sites, but predation still occurs. Snakes are among the deadly raiders of weaver nests, taking eggs and chicks, and at night sometimes also catching adult weavers roosting in the nests.

Cape Cobra, one of the main predators of Sociable Weaver nests


Snake predators of weaver nests

Where the snake species has been identified, the most common predators of weaver nests are the Boomslang Dispholidus typus and Cape Cobra Naja nivea. Some other recorded snake predators are, in decreasing order: Rhombic Egg-eater Dasypeltis scabra (and other egg-eater species), Black Mamba Dendroaspis polylepis, pythons, and Green Mamba Dendroaspis angusticeps (see photos below).

Snake predation papers

Recent reviews of snake predation included some weaver records:

  • Grundler MC 2020 SquamataBase: a natural history database and R package for comparative biology of snake feeding habits. Biodiversity Data Journal 8:e49943 (data based mainly on published references)
  • Maritz RA, Maritz B 2020 Sharing for science: high-resolution trophic interactions revealed rapidly by social media. Biodiversity and Conservation online (data mainly from facebook page)

The most comprehensive global database of snake (and reptile) taxonomy is The Reptile Database.

Some photos of snakes raiding weaver nests

PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) contains several great photos of snakes robbing weaver nests – a few are shown below (all photos hosted at

Boomslang raiding Cape Weaver nest, © S Adam

Eastern Tiger Snake raiding Red-headed Weaver nest, © LG Jansen

Python resting on Viellot’s Black Weaver nest [possible predation], © P Oliver

Rat Snake raiding Baya Weaver nest, © D Gupta

If you have a photo of an interesting weaver nest or colony, please upload under PHOWN at the Virtual Museum of the University of Cape Town (read the “How to” pdf for help).

PHOWN, PHOtos of Weaver Nests, is a citizen science project to collect and monitor breeding distributions and colony sizes of weaver birds globally.

Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.