How far can you spit?

A week or two ago I saw that a snake had slithered into my empty swimming pool. It is still empty due to our ongoing water problems but there was a small pool of water that had collected from the rain. I think the snake was attracted to a small group of frogs that were enjoying the water. Normally when I need to remove a snake I just use my snake hook or tongs to catch them and move them back into the bush but this little fellow (about 40 cm’s) turned out to be a juvenile Mozambican Spitting Cobra.

The Mozambican Spitting Cobra is second only to the Mamba as the most dangerous snake in Africa because of its venomous bite.  Adults are 1-1.5 meters long. These cobras don’t actually spit venom; they spray it.  Their muscles contract to push venom from the bottom of the fangs while air from the lung blows or sprays the venom at the victim’s eyes.

Their color can be olive-grey, brown, or grey with black scales in between.  Mozambican Spitting Cobras occupy a wide variety of habitats—they can be found in thicket and moist savanna, often near permanent water holes.  Adult Mozambican Spitting Cobras are mostly nocturnal but can be found by day sun bathing close to their hiding spot.

The spitting cobra has a broad diet, including snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents and other small mammals.  When disturbed, this cobra will rear up two-thirds of its body and spray its venom with quick accuracy toward the victim’s eyes.  Its poison takes effect instantaneously.  It can cause inflammation or permanent blindness if not washed out immediately.

Mozambique Spitting Cobras can be found in hollow logs, under rocks or termite mounds, in holes under ground, and under thick bushes.  Keep your distance from this cobra if you happen to run into one.  It can spray your eyes with surprising accuracy.

The juvenile snake (which mine was) moves really fast and although it’s highly toxic venom is the same as that of the adult, it has yet to learn how to control the volume of venom to inject into its prey, so more often than not, bites from these juvenile snakes are fatal.

After consulting with a few friends on how to remove him, I decided to put a really long (3m) bushy branch into the pool which he climbed onto and I lifted him out and walked him back into the bush.  I was really glad that I eventually got him out because he used to puff up his collar every time I walked past the swimming pool and he was freaking me out .  I think I may have been freaking him out too 🙂


13 thoughts on “How far can you spit?

  1. Hehe Jackie – poor Mfezi, how could you freak the creature out like that?

    This spitter is common in Namibia too and I’ve had quite a few run-ins with them – once my young daughter was walking with me when she said “snake dad!’ – I looked to where she was pointing and there, a few feet from my leg was a juvenile ready to spit or strike …


  2. Amazing! When we were kids we used to ride to the top of the brand new highrise buildings in Surfers Paradise and see if we could spit and reach the ground. It never did and I doubt that we would have killed anyone with our spit.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s