The Mozambique Spitting Cobra is a venomous snake of the family Elapidae. Also known by its scientific name Naja Mossambica, it is the most widespread species of Cobra in the savannah regions of Tropical and Subtropical Africa.
This species, considered one of the most dangerous in Africa, was first described by the German naturalist Wilhelm Peter in 1854.
The body of the Mozambique Spitting Cobra is slender and tapered. It is slightly compressed on the front part and ends with a medium sized tail.
Like all Cobras, it has long cervical vertebrae that allow it to deploy its mythical hood when in danger.
Its head is flattened, broad and distinguishes itself from its neck. The end of its head ends in a rounded muzzle. Its eyes are of medium size with round pupils.
Its dorsal scales oscillate between light and dark brown, although some specimens deviate on the olive green. They are partially or totally bordered with black.
The ventral scales are of a pinkish, cream or salmon tint and are crossed by irregular stripes of black color. In juveniles, these bands are sometimes pink or yellow. Its scales are smooth.
As with most Spitting Cobras, their fangs are modified and the venom comes out the front of them, allowing them to spit their venom with precision on their victims.
Mozambique Spitting Cobra Size
The average size of a Mozambique Spitting Cobra is between 3ft and 3.5ft (90cm and 105cm). It is therefore considered a medium sized snake. The largest recorded specimen was 5ft (154cm).
The lifespan of the Mossambia Naja is around 15 to 16 years in captivity.
Even if the Mozambique Spitting Cobra likes water a lot, this species is terrestrial. It has a rather nocturnal behavior, although juveniles tend to be rather active during the day.
As mentioned earlier, this Cobra also likes to wander around urban areas in search of food. In some poor areas like Swaziland, people sleep on grass mats with their doors open because of the heat, which makes them particularly vulnerable to Mozambique Spitting Cobra bites.
This snake has a rather nervous and aggressive temperament. When disturbed, it lifts part of its body off the ground, opens its hood and spits its venom into its victim’s eyes. Never underestimate this species because it is able to spit its venom with great accuracy up to 9.8ft (3m) away.
This technique allows it to blind its opponent and to escape more easily. It also prevents him from having to attack his victim in close combat. As a result, the Mozambique Spitting Cobra rarely bites.
The venom of the Mozambique Spitting Cobra is very toxic. It consists mainly of neurotoxins and a small amount of cytotoxins. The latter can cause destruction of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Skin grafts will be necessary if no treatment is given quickly to a Naja Mossambica bite victim.
Currently, few victims of Mozambique Spitting Cobra have been recorded, but the few victims that there have been have been disfigured.
A Mozambique Spitting Cobra bite causes local effects at first. These include severe swelling, severe pain, bruising, blistering, and extensive necrosis in some cases.
Subsequently, general symptoms occur such as: abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, severe headaches, drowsiness, diarrhea, dizziness, convulsions and paralysis.
If this Cobra were to spit its venom into the eyes, severe pain could occur, as well as visual disturbances and in some cases, blindness.
In case of bite of Naja Mossambica, it is essential to go as soon as possible to the nearest hospital.
While waiting for the help of the emergency services, here are some advices to limit the envenomation:
- Remove any element that could compress the affected limb (bracelet, ring …)
- Use a compression bandage to limit the movements of the injured limb
- Do not incise or aspirate the wound with your mouth to try to extract the venom
- Do not apply cream or ointment to the wound
- Do not take painkillers
Currently, there are 4 antivenoms that are effective against the Mozambique Spitting Cobra poison. To limit the damage, it is important that the antidote is given within 5 hours after the bite.
The Mozambique Spitting Cobra is native to Africa. It lives mainly in Angola, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa.
This snake prefers open areas with grass, rocks or brush. Therefore, it is possible to find it in deserted, wooded areas, in the savannah. Unfortunately, it is also often seen in inhabited areas, especially at night.
Finally, it enjoys walking near water, especially because it can dive to escape in case of danger.
What do Mozambique Spitting Cobras eat ?
The Naja Mossambica feeds mainly on small vertebrates like rodents, lizards or toads. However, if these preys are not available, it can also eat small mammals, birds, eggs, insects or other snakes.
The Mozambique Spitting Cobra is an oviparous snake, which means that the female lays eggs. Generally, a clutch consists of between 10 and 22 eggs. The incubation period then lasts between 70 and 90 days. During this period, the female is very protective and can be very aggressive.
At birth, the juveniles measure about 0.9in to 1in (2.3cm to 2.5cm).
This Cobra is very solitary throughout the year and only seems to get close to other members of its species during the breeding season. During mating, these snakes have a specific ritual in which the male tries to dominate the female by sending her to the ground with its hood.
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