Mozambique Spitting Cobra Fact Sheet
MOZAMBIQUE SPITTING COBRA / IMFETI
DISTRIBUTION AND DANGER
The Mozambique spitting cobra is found throughout Eswatini. It is one of the most commonly seen snakes, and it is responsible for the majority of serious recorded bites.
It is active during the day and night whilst actively hunting for food, even climbing shrubs and trees. It will enter buildings without hesitation, and most bites occur when the snake climbs onto beds and even baby cots looking for something to eat.
A robust medium-length snake, averaging 1.2 – 1.5m in Eswatini. The colour is generally brown (light to dark brown) or dark grey. The throat is either orange or salmon in colour, with black bands or markings.
The skin between the scales is black, sometimes giving a netted appearance.
Although it spits venom, it will bite without hesitation if it feels threatened or is hurt. When cornered, it will rear up and spread a hood and will spit venom at the face of the offender. If it is not left alone, it will spray its’ venom at a distance of up to 3 meters. It can also spit venom without hooding, i.e., from under a bed or rock. Multiple bites are common.
The venom is highly Cytotoxic, causing extensive tissue damage. In case of a bite, mediate medical attention is required.
- There will be an immediate burning sensation and throbbing pain at the bite site.
- Swelling will start within minutes and move up the bitten limb.
- The swelling will feel hot to the touch.
- There will be very little or no bleeding from the bite site.
- A darkened area develops (bruising) at the bite site, and blisters will form around and on this area.
- Necrosis occurs in 90% of bites, and tissue destruction is usually severe but superficial.
SYMPTOMS AFTER BEING SPAT IN THE EYES
- Extreme pain in the eyes.
- Excessive watering of eyes.
A bite from this snake is very painful but not life-threatening if treated correctly. Antivenom is required in 90% of cases to limit damage to the affected limb.
FIRST-AID AFTER A BITE
- Remain calm. Do not run or engage in strenuous activity; walk at a slow pace to where you can get assistance.
- Arrange to get to a medical centre without delay.
- Gently wash the bite site with water, nothing else.
- Make a note of the time the bite occurred.
- Remove rings, jewellery, other restrictive clothing or shoes.
- Elevate the bitten limb.
- DO NOT, under any circumstances, tourniquet or tie a bandage, band, belt or rope to the affected limb. This is likely to create more damage and can speed necrosis.
- DO NOT drink any herbal remedy, and do not cut the bitten limb.
AFTER BEING SPAT IN THE EYES
- DO NOT RUB the eyes.
- Flush the eye/s with running water for at least 20 minutes. Other bland liquids can be used, but water is best.
- Immediate flushing will prevent permanent damage to the eye.
- Go to a medical centre for an examination to receive local anaesthetic and antibiotic eye drops.
- Pain will gradually decrease over time and be gone in a few days.
Pictures © Copyright Mike Perry, Tyrone James Ping & Thea Litschka-koen