This species is found in northeast South Africa, southern Mozambique, eastern Botswana, Malawi, throughout Zimbabwe, and parts of Swaziland.
Snouted Cobras inhabit arid and moist savanna, particularly in bushveld and lowveld areas. It is not found in forests. As a large Cobra, it often has a permanent home base or lair in an abandoned termite mound, where it will reside for years if left undisturbed. It is a nocturnal species, foraging for food from dusk onwards. It enjoys basking in the sun during the day near its lair or retreat. This species can be quite nervous and will strike to defend itself if threatened. Like other Cobras, when disturbed, it usually raises the front-third of its body when extending its hood and hissing. Very large adults are able to lift as much as 0.5 m of the body off the ground while spreading a wide, impressive hood. However, given the opportunity, it will escape to the nearest hole or crevice. Like the rinkhals, it may sham death if threatened, but this is rare.
It preys on toads, rodents, birds and their eggs, lizards and other snakes, especially puff adders. It often raids poultry runs and can become a nuisance.