Many cobras spit venom. Some say that vipers do this, but it is mere speculation with no documented evidence.
Generally speaking, snakes that spit venom are called the spitting cobra. However, there are many species of the cobra that do this. They spit venom to protect themselves.
|Venom Spitting Snake||Latin Name||Endemic To|
|Ashe’s Spitting Cobra||Naja ashei||Africa|
|Black Spitting Cobra||Naja nigricincta woodi||Africa|
|Crawshay’s Spitting Cobra||Naja crawshayi||Africa|
(AKA Katian Spitting Cobra)
|Mozambique spitting cobra||Naja mossambica||Africa|
|Nubian Spitting Cobra||Naja nubiae||Africa|
|Red Spitting Cobra||Naja pallida||Africa|
|Andaman Cobra||Naja sagittifera||Asia|
|Chinese Cobra||Naja atra||Asia|
|Equatorial Spitting Cobra||Naja sumatrana||Asia|
|Thai Spitting Cobra |
(AKA Indochinese Cobra)
|Javan Spitting Cobra||Naja sputatrix||Asia|
|Monocled Cobra||Naja kaouthia||Asia|
|Palawan Spitting Cobra||Naja miolepis||Asia|
Disclaimer: This is information for entertainment and educational purposes only. Do not approach a wild animal and keep your distance. Only professionals should handle wild animals. Seek professional help immediately if you have been bitten or otherwise harmed. Consult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.
Snakes That Spit Venom
Let’s take a look at some snakes that spit venom and learn more about them
1. Ashe’s Spitting Cobra (Naja ashei)
Another name it goes by is the Giant Spitting Cobra. It is a snake that is endemic to Africa, and it is the world’s largest spitting cobra.
2. Zebra-Spitting-Cobra (Naja nigricollis)
Like the first one, this is mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa. They are medium-sized snakes that primarily prey on rats. They can grow up to seven feet in length.
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3. Black Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricincta woodi)
It has the same name as the previous one, but this is a nominate species. They used to be one species, but they were soon divided into two. Woodi and Nigricollis belong to the species nigricinta.
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4. Crawshay’s Spitting Cobra (Naja crawshayi)
Also a variant of the nigricollis, it was discovered in 1893. Today, people also call it the black spitting cobra. It is known in Eastern Congo and has a distinction from other black spitting cobras in Africa.
5. Mali or Katian (Naja katiensis)
It is a brown cobra that lives in West Africa. It lives in grasslands, tropical and subtropical areas, including savannahs and shrublands.
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6. Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica)
It is a highly venomous species that is found in many African countries. Its color varies from slate to blue. Some variations are olive and tawny black. They have varying colors of bars across the necks.
7. Nubian Spitting Cobra (Naja nubiae)
It is a small cobra that is native to Africa. The longest is only 148 centimeters. They are mostly brownish with grey tinge. They have a dark ring across the neck. People thought it was the red spitting cobra, but the difference was established through DNA analysis.
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8. Red Spitting Cobra (Naja pallida)
Also native to Africa, it can grow up to 1.5 meters. It is an attractive snake, but it is not always reddish. Some are orange-red, and they have a dark blue or black band on the throat. Some specimens are yellow.
9. Rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus)
Some people refer to this cobra as ringhal because it has a ring on its neck. It is found in Southern Africa, and it is not a true cobra. They are also elapids, but they belong to the genus Hemachatus. They have two light-colored bands on the throat.
10. Andaman Cobra (Naja sagittifera)
Native to the Andaman Islands in India, this cobra is medium-sized and does not have strong spitting power. It can grow up to 1.5 meters, and the adults come in three color patterns: black, light brown, and grey.
11. Chinese Cobra (Naja atra)
Sometimes, people refer to this as the Taiwan cobra. It is found mainly in southern China. It is one of the most prevalent species in China and Taiwan. It was found in 1842, and it is back.
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12. Equatorial Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana)
This snake is the Asian version of the black spitting cobra. It goes by different names like the Malayan cobra, Sumatran cobra, and golden spitting cobra. It grows up to 3.9 feet and is found mainly in Malaysia and Singapore.
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13. Indochinese Spitting Cobra or Thai Spitting Cobra (Naja siamensis)
It is a medium-sized snake that has color variations from gray to black. It has white spots or stripes, and it is common in central Thailand. Some specimens are black.
14. Javan Spitting Cobra (Naja sputatrix)
Also known as the Indonesian cobra, it is common in the lesser islands of Indonesia. They can grow to a maximum of 1.85 meters. Adults are usually yellowish, and some are brown and almost black.
15. Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia)
It is common in Southeast Asia, and it is an O-shaped pattern on its hood. It has a large fang up to 6.88 mm, and it is just moderately adapted for spitting.
16. Palawan Spitting Cobra (Naja miolepis)
There are three types of spitting cobra in the Philippines. These are the Palawan Spitting Cobra, Philippine cobra (Naja philippinensis), and Samar cobra (Naja samarensis).
The Philippine cobra is brownish and resembles the typical cobra. On the other hand, the Palawan cobra has a band of yellow and black stripes. Lastly, the Samar cobra has a yellow head.
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How Do Snakes Spit Venom?
Snakes do not spit venom. What they do is spray it. They squeeze their muscles on their venom glands. When they do this, the contraction forces the venom out of their fangs.
Cobras spit if they have to defend themselves. Some snakes can “spit” up to 6.5 feet or two meters. While venom has little to no effect on intact skin, it can damage the eyes.
One thing that spitting cobras do is target the victim’s eyes. They are surprisingly accurate, up to 90%. They predict the head movement of the target, and this is how they guide the venom to hit the mark.
Why Do Snakes Spit Venom?
Spitting venom is strictly for defense, not for killing. Snakes that spit typically do this with something bigger than them.
Since cobras are not particularly muscular, they have to inject venom to kill the prey. They also have relatively small fangs. So cobras know that if they miss envenomation, an animal can turn around and kill them.
The spitting trait is an elaborate bluffing system that helps them get rid of threats. Another thing they do is to “stand up” and spread their hood to make them bigger.
Summary: A to Z List of Snakes That Spit Venom
Snakes that spit venom are mostly cobras or elapids. There are reports of vipers that spit, but it is not documented.
When cobras spit, they do not intend to kill their prey. Instead, they spit to discourage threats from advancing. Thus, the only way a cobra can kill is through envenomation.
When they spit, they specifically target the eyes. There is no sense in spitting randomly, as the venom does not affect intact skin.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.