Black Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricincta woodi)

Other Names: Swartspoegkobra, Swart Spoegslang (Afrikaans), Mhungu (chiShona)


Pitch black with very shiny scales, it lifts front of body to spread a hood, and will quickly spray venom at its enemy.


The Black Spitting Cobra is a cobra of medium build. Adults average 1 to 1.2m long and reaching up to 1.8m long. The head is distinct from neck. The eye has round pupil, and the iris is very dark. Adults are uniformly glossy black. The snake has smooth, shiny dorsal scales in 21 rows at midbody.

Juveniles are grey with black between the scales (giving a netted appearance) and the belly, head and neck are black.


The Black Spitting Cobra is found in South Western Cape with records from Durbanville, Milnerton, Paarl and Porterville. It is relatively common from the Cedarburg region, north into Namaqualand, extending to the eastern parts of the Northern Cape as far as Prieska and Upington.  It can be found in extreme south-eastern Botswana and southern Namibia.


The Black Spitting Cobra is found in arid, sandy and rocky areas, especially dry riverbeds.

Specific bioregions are: Northwest Fynbos, Bushmanland, Alluvial Vegetation, West Coast Renosterveld, Knersvlakte, Namaqualand Hardeveld, Rainshadow Valley Karoo, Richtersveld, Gariep Desert, Southern Namib Desert, Kalahari Duneveld and Eastern Kalahari Bushveld.


The Black Spitting Cobra is mostly active during the day, especially on overcast days. If it detects danger it will quickly flee, but if approached, or in close proximity, it will readily spit or spray its venom.


The Black Spitting Cobras’ venom is potently cytotoxic, causing severe pain, swelling and tissue damage. Very few bites have been recorded, due to the snake being rarely encountered. Venom in eyes causes extreme pain and could lead to permanent damage if not washed out. Although no antivenom is produced for the Black Spitting Cobra, SAIMR polyvalent antivenom might neutralize some of the venom components.


The Black Spitting Cobra has fixed front fangs with a modified L-shaped canal that directs venom out of the mouth, enabling the snake to spray it up to 3 meters as a defence mechanism. Usually the threatener’s eyes are targeted when this snake sprays its venom. The Black Spitting Cobra will also bite, using the same venom.