Mozambique spitting cobra

picture: Ryanvanhuyssteen
picture: Ryanvanhuyssteen

So, you're curious about the Mozambique spitting cobra ? Brace yourself because these slithery critters are as fascinating as they are formidable!

First off, yes, their spitting skills are something else! They don't just spit venom; they're like the sharpshooters of the snake world. If you're ever near one, it's best to keep your distance because when they feel threatened, they've got this crazy ability to shoot their venom with pinpoint accuracy. And they aim for the eyes! Not something you'd want to experience during your holiday adventures, am I right?

These snakes, with their shiny scales and impressive size, are quite the sight in their natural habitat. But don't let their beauty fool you – their cheeks are packed with potent cytotoxic venom. That stuff can cause some serious damage to tissues and cells. If it gets in your lungs, it can cause major problems, especially if you're allergic. There have sadly been cases where it's been fatal.

Amazingly, Mozambique spitting cobras can spit venom even while lying flat on the ground – they don't need to rear up like other cobras. They do this little head shake, kind of a wobbly figure-eight move, which spreads the venom out so it's hard to dodge. Imagine trying to avoid that over a distance of 6 or 8 feet!

Remember to be respectful and maintain a safe distance if you come across one on a nature walk or safari. While it's super cool to observe them in the wild, it's important not to disturb them. They're just doing their snake thing, trying to stay safe and sound.

Despite their aggressive defense mechanisms, it's hard not to be enchanted by these creatures. They're a remarkable part of the ecosystem and deserve our respect and caution. For me, it's this mix of awe and a tiny bit of healthy fear that makes wildlife encounters like this both thrilling and unforgettable.

So, if you're heading out to explore where these serpents hang out, stay safe, alert, and enjoy all the incredible things nature has to offer. Adventure is out there – but so are Mozambique spitting cobras, so let's admire them from a distance!

Fact Sheet

Mozambique Spitting Cobra - Naja mossambica


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Elapidae
  • Genus: Naja
  • Species: N. mossambica


  • Coloration: Typically a brownish or yellowish-grey, sometimes with dark bands
  • Length: Average 1.2 meters (3.9 feet), can reach up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet)
  • Distinctive Features: Hood (extended when threatened), elongated cervical ribs, smooth scales

Distribution and Habitat:

  • Range: Native to Eastern Africa, found in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, and northern regions of South Africa
  • Preferred Habitats: Savannahs, lowland forests, and moist regions, often near water sources. Also found in agricultural areas and the outskirts of urban regions.


  • Diet: Primarily feeds on rodents, amphibians, other snakes, birds, and occasionally small lizards
  • Hunting Method: Active hunter, uses venom to subdue prey
  • Defense Strategy: Well-known for its defensive behavior of spitting venom; can accurately project venom up to 2-3 meters (6.5-9.8 feet) towards an attacker's eyes, causing temporary blindness and severe pain. When cornered, it may also deliver a venomous bite.
  • Reproduction: Oviparous, lays clutches of 10-22 eggs usually in the summer. The eggs incubate for about 60-90 days before hatching.


  • Composition: Cytotoxic; composed of proteins and polypeptides that cause local tissue destruction and necrosis
  • Effects on Humans: If bitten, the venom can cause severe pain, swelling, blistering, and in some cases, necrosis at the site of the bite. Venom to the eyes can cause severe pain and damage to the cornea which can lead to blindness if not washed out immediately and attended to with medical treatment.

Conservation Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Not Evaluated (NE)
  • CITES: Not listed

Threats and Conservation Efforts:

  • Main Threats: Habitat destruction and human persecution due to fear of the snake
  • Conservation Efforts: Not specifically targeted, but benefits from broader conservation efforts aimed at preserving natural habitats and ecosystems where it lives.

Safety and First Aid:

  • Avoidance: Be aware of surroundings, especially in regions where the cobra is native. Do not provoke or attempt to handle the snake.
  • First Aid: In case of venom spat into eyes, immediately rinse with copious amounts of water and seek medical attention. In case of a bite, immobilize the affected limb and seek emergency medical help; anti-venom is the most effective treatment to counteract the cytotoxic effects.

Interesting Facts:

  • Despite their ability to spit venom, Mozambique spitting cobras prefer to flee rather than confront humans.
  • They have excellent aim and can control the direction and spray pattern of the venom when spitting defensively.
  • The snake's hood is a warning display used to make itself appear larger and more intimidating to potential predators.

Please note that when dealing with any venomous snakes, it is crucial to maintain a respectful distance and avoid confrontation.