Blacknecked spitting cobra

Naja nigricollis

SUBFAMILY

Elapinae

TAXONOMY

Naja nigricollis Reinhardt, 1843, Guinea. Genus probably includes several species.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Cobra a cou noir; German: Speikobra.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This snake reaches a length of approximately 79 in (2 m). The species is highly variable in color, ranging from dull brown to contrasting black and white bands to jet black. Its fangs are like hypodermic needles in that each fang has an opening at the tip that points outward, thus allowing the cobra to "spit" venom a considerable distance.

DISTRIBUTION

Western, central, and southern Africa. HABITAT

The black-necked spitting cobra generally prefers open savanna but can be found in all types of terrestrial habitat, including urban areas.

BEHAVIOR

This cobra is terrestrial but is a good climber. It is generally active at night but sometimes during the day as well.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This cobra has a varied diet, including reptiles and amphibians (even toads), birds, and eggs.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The female lays eight to 20 eggs.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The snake squirts venom from its fangs, aiming for the eyes of the target. A large snake can spit a jet of venom up to 118 in (3 m). The venom causes extreme pain and can cause temporary blindness if treatment is not initiated immediately. The bite can be fatal. ♦

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