Mozambique Spitting Cobra
The Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) is very a common snake in Africa with potent venom, the species accounts for many snake bites and for that reason it's considered one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa.
The species is widely distributed in the eastern parts of Southern Africa, most of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, southern Angola, north-eastern Namibia and Northern Botswana. The species was first described by Wilhelm Peters, a German naturalist in 1854.
They are found mostly in lowland forest and moist savannas, where it prefers broken, rocky country, hollow logs, termite mounds and animal holes. They are often found close to water sources, unlike the Egyptian Cobra, to which it will readily retreat if disturbed. They are most active at night but may bask near a retreat or forage on overcast days, juvenile specimens are more active during the day.
Their dorsal side color ranges from slate grey to olive brown with a dark edge in each scale. In the ventral region they are yellowish or salmon pink, with some black crossbars and blotches on the throat, sometimes forming a band across the ventral scales.
They are a relatively small sized and slender snake species, with an adult Mozambique spitting cobra averaging a length of around 1 to 1,2 meters and they rarely exceed 1,5 meters. They live for an average of 20 years in captivity.
These snakes seldom stand their ground, if cornered it may spread its hood, however its main defense, other than retreating into hiding, is like their common name implies to spit its venom. However "spraying" venom is probably more accurate.
They may also simulate death to avoid further molestation. They do not always spread their hood and may only open the mouth slightly before spitting venom. They can effectively spit from concealed positions.
Their fangs are specially modified for spitting the venom, with channel openings in the tips of the teeth directed forward at right angles to the fangs. This allows the Mozambique Spitting Cobra to spit its venom to a distance of 2 or 3 meters and their venom supply is plentiful.
If the hair, face or arms are hit by the "spit" the venom poses no threat, but in the eyes it causes an immediate stinging sensation and blindness and should be washed out immediately with large quantities of water or milk.
Venom / Bite
The Mozambique Spitting Cobra does bite depending on the situation it is in. Their venom type is predominantly cytotoxic, and it causes serious local tissue damage. It causes also slight neurotoxic effects, such as drowsiness or reduced breathing. With early administration of anti-venom the extent of tissue damage may be reduced and fatalities are rare.
Diet / Feeding
They feed mainly on small mammals, birds, lizards, toads, insects and other snakes including the Puff Adder. They are occasionally found searching for food inside and in the vicinity of houses.
The Mozambique Spitting Cobra is an oviparous snake species, it lays eggs. The mating season occurs in April and after a gestation period of 2 months, 10 to 22 eggs are laid in mid-summer. The hatchlings measure 23 to 25 cm and are completely independent at birth.
Conservation / Threats
This species has yet to be classified by the IUCN.
Did You Know?
Beside the longest fangs the deadly gaboon viper as also the largest venom glands.