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Analyses of venom spitting in African cobras (Elapidae: Serpentes)

Bruce A. Young
Mark O’Shea


The venom spat by four spitting cobras (Naja nigricollis, N. pallida, N. mossambica and Hemachatus haemachatus) was caught using perspex plates. Densiometric analysis of the spat venom revealed low levels of variation in volume among successive spits. The dispersal patterns formed by the spat venom were divided into two basic classes, both of which were produced by all four species. The low levels of variation in venom volume, coupled with the variation in venom dispersal pattern, suggests a complexity to the regulation of venom flow in spitting cobras beyond simply neuromuscular control of the extrinsic venom gland.

Keywords: defensive behaviour, snake, teeth, Naja, Hemachatus

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020