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Black-necked spitting cobra

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Black-necked spitting cobra
Naja Nigricollis.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Naja nigricollis

  • N. n. nigricollis (Black Necked Spitting Cobra)
  • N. n. nigricincta (Zebra Spitting Cobra)
  • N. n. woodi (Black Spitting Cobra)

The Black-necked Spitting Cobra is a species of spitting cobra known by the scientific name Naja nigricollis. Like all cobras, the black-necked spitting cobra was created by God on Day 6 of Creation. It is one of the largest spitting cobras in the world, all of which possess the distinct characteristic of spitting venom at their target. It is found in many places in Africa especially below the Sahara. It has three subspecies with (N. n. nigricollis) being the most common and also known by the same common name.[1]


The Black-necked spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis) is a vertebrate, that is, it has a backbone. Growing to about 2 meters it highly ranges in colors.[2] It can have black, brown, or white bands because it depends on the region it lives in for its color. [3] It has two fangs which are like hypodermic needles that allow it to fire venom outwards.[4] The head is very easy to spot because of two large venom glands at each side of the head. The scales are as follows: 21-23 dorsal scales at mid-body, 182-196 ventral scales, and 54-66 sub-caudal scales. One distinct feature of the snake is obviously the hood which is a characteristic in all cobras and shows a sign of defense.[5]


Snake eggs. Not cobra.

The mating season can vary from the end of winter to the beginning of summer. Usually the mating season is the same whether in captivity or in the wild. The gestation period lasts about 90-100 days. Once the eggs are laid it takes about 60-70 days for the babies to hatch, and they need to be in a temperature of 28-30 degrees Celsius. At birth the babies are about 20-25 cm. in length.[6] At one time the female lays about 8-20 eggs.[7]


The black-necked spitting cobra is found in almost every kind of climate. Savanna, semi-desert, coastal scrubs, and dry grasslands are just some of the areas it can be found. Found sometimes at heights of 1800 m. it loves to hide in rodent holes, termite mounds, hollow trees, and tree trunks. A nocturnal species it hunts at night to find rats and mice. They also enjoy frogs and lizards as meals but their diet can really depend on where they live.[8] It can also find its way into cities and villages.[9] Many species of bird feed on the cobra along with the banded mongoose.[10]

Venom and Spitting

Cobra ready to spit at mammal.

The venom of the Naja nigricollis has neurotoxins and mixes it with cytotoxins. The lethal bite can cause, if not treated, external hemorrhaging and tissue necrosis around the bite. Death is caused by asphyxiation due to paralysis of the diaphragm.[11] The snake obviously has the ability to spit venom from its fangs. It aims for the eyes of the target and the adult can fire up to 3 meters. If the enemy is hit in the eyes it will be temporarily blinded, and if not treated will be permanently blind.[12] The accuracy of the spray is due to many things. First, the snake moves its head as the target moves to hurl the venom at the target. The snake use geometrical rotations to get better angles at the target. Another thing that adds to the accuracy is the way venom comes out. Not a stream or mist but in special geometric patterns that scientists believe increases the area the venom can hit, which in turn increases accuracy.[13]