Spitting Cobra (Naja sp.) - Wiki
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[Photo] Juvenile Red Spitting Cobra, Naja pallida. Photographer: LA Dawson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dawson
Spitting cobra refers to any one of several species of cobras that have the ability to spit or eject venom from their mouth when defending themselves against predators. The spit venom, is harmless to intact skin. However it can cause permanent blindness if introduced to the eye and left untreated (causing chemosis and corneal swelling).
Despite their name, these snakes don't actually spit their venom. They rather spray the venom, using muscular contractions upon the venom glands. The muscles squeeze the glands and force the venom out the forward facing holes at the tip of the fang. Upon leaving the fang tip a large gust of air is expelled from the lung. The venom is propelled forward, mist-like, in the form of droplets. When cornered, some species can "spit" their venom up to a distance of two meters. Four out of seven species of cobras found in Africa and seven out of nine species found in Asia can spit to varying degrees.
While spitting is typically their primary form of defense, all spitting cobras are also capable of delivering venom through a bite as well. Most species' venom exhibit significant hemotoxic effects, along with more typical neurotoxic effects of other cobra species.
Species of the spitting cobras
- Black-Necked Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis)
- Black Spitting Cobra (Naja woodi)
- Western Barred Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricincta)
- Red Spitting Cobra (Naja pallida)
- Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica)
- Malaysian Spitting Cobra (Naja sputatrix)
- Black and White Spitting Cobra (Naja siamensis)
- Sumatran Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana)
- Nubian Spitting Cobra (Naja nubiae)
- Burmese Spitting Cobra (Naja manadalayensis)
Other spitting species
Some non-spitting cobras have been noted to spit occasionally. Certain, predominantly non-spitting, Asian cobras do have the spitting tendency.
The Rinkhals cobra (Hemachatus haemachatus) is another elapid species, which while not belonging to the Cobra genus (Naja), is closely related, that can spit venom. In fact, the Rinkhals is one of the most effective venom spitting snakes.
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