I’ve always had an admiration for this specific specimen. Rarely exceeding 1.5 metres, it is a rather small Cobra species, but that doesn’t make it any less threatening.
I remember the first time I heard of them, I was watching yet another snake program, named Snakes in the City. Basically, throughout South Africa, a British couple rescue snakes from a populated area and relocate them. They mostly deal with venomous snakes and they do it all for the wellbeing of the snake to prevent it from meeting a grizzly fate amongst the humans.
One of their more common calls is for the one and only Mozambique Spitting Cobra.
This snake is often fed upon by other snakes, probably due to its smaller size.
When being cornered these snakes may spray their hood or even feign death if they do not retreat. Obviously, when pushed a bit more, you are often met with what it’s name suggests; a large spray of venom.
Now this is why I have an appreciation for this snake. Unlike the rest of the Cobra (Naja) family, it is able to direct a stream of its venom without rising out the ground, but by merely tilting its head upwards, it is able to let a dangerous golden liquid loose into the air.
This is a very unique feature as other Cobras generally need to raise their bodies to spray properly, but it is little effort for the Mozambique Spitting Cobra to give an accurate shot towards the eyes, being able to spit 2 to 3 metres in length.
Of course, if it comes in contact with your eyes, there will be a stinging sensation that could lead to blindness if not washed out as soon as possible, but generally, if it just lands upon the skin, in most cases, one should be fine.
In most cases. Referring back to Snakes in the City, the woman, Siouxsie Gillett, is actually allergic to specifically Mozambique Spitting Cobra venom, as stated in an episode, so when it comes into contact with her skin, it often causes quite a bit of discomfort and irritation, and a bite for her could be quite fatal.
I have a rather large respect for her though, as even though her boyfriend Simon Keys will try to keep her away when they get a call for this specific snake, she will still try and help regardless.
The toxicity level of their bite is similar to that of a Mojave Rattlesnake, their venom causing severe tissue damage with slight neurotoxic effects such as drowsiness and shortness of breath. If a bite is not treated as soon as possible, serious tissue damage will occur, leading to a prolonged hospital stay and skin grafts.
Their diet includes a wide variety of specimens, from small mammals and amphibians such as frogs, to even small birds, lizards and the Puff Adder. Often, they will be found inside homes scavenging for these foods, especially when frogs and rodents are close by.
Here is a short video from Snakes in the City where they handle a Mozambique spitting cobra, and it’s quite a beautiful one, too.