Naja mossambica (Mozambique spitting cobra)

Mosambiekse spoegkobra, Spuugslang [Afrikaans]; iPhimpi [Xhosa]; imFezi [Zulu]; iPhimpi [Ndebele]; Kake [Tswana]; Phakhuphakhu [Venda].

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes)  > Family: Elapidae > Genus: Naja

Naja mossambica (Mozambique spitting cobra), Limpopo [G. Tomsett , from SARCA Virtual Museum]


The Mozambique spitting cobra can be identified by the following features; an ability to spit its venom from any position without raising its hood, irregular black throat bands that become visible when the hood is raised and lastly its habit of playing dead when threatened. This snake grows to an average length of 1.2 meters but may grow to a length of 1.5 meters.

Distribution and habitat

Has a broad distribution being found in the following areas; KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West. It is also present in the following countries ; Swaziland, southern Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and northern Namibia. Its favoured habitat is rocky savanna or lowland forest where it inhabits hollow logs or termite mounds close to a water source. This snake is capable living on the ground or in small shrubs.


Feeds on toads, small mammals (e.g. rodents), lizards, birds (including poultry), insects and other snakes (particularly Puff adders).

Predators, parasites and disease

Fed on by other snakes


Oviparous (egg laying), lays between 10 and 22 eggs in midsummer.


This snake lives for an average of 20 years in captivity.

Medical importance

This cobra species has a powerful cytotoxic (but also has a weak neurotoxic effect) that causes serious tissue damage requiring skin grafts or blindness if received in the eyes. This can be reduced if antivenom is used promptly.



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.


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