Sunday 19 May
Nubian spitting cobra (Naja nubiae)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Nubian spitting cobra fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Nubian spitting cobra description
Only described as recently as 2003 (3), the Nubian spitting cobra (Naja nubiae) is a fairly slender snake with a relatively broad, flattened head, a rounded snout, round pupils and a medium-length tail (4). Although it a medium-sized snake (4), it is relatively small for a cobra (3). The Nubian spitting cobra has the ability to expand its ribs and form a ‘hood’ when threatened (4).
The upperparts of the Nubian spitting cobra are brownish-grey, with black bases to the scales, while the underparts are a lighter buff colour and have a yellowish tint towards the rear of the body. There is a very faint dark speckling along the middle of the belly (3).
The Nubian spitting cobra is also distinguished by a throat pattern consisting of two to three dark bands (2) (3), some of which cross the neck immediately behind the head to form a forward-pointing chevron on the back of the neck (3). The third throat band often fades with age. In front of the main throat band is a distinct lighter area, usually with a small dark spot on either side. The Nubian spitting cobra also has a conspicuous, well-defined ‘tear drop’ marking under the eye (3).
This species was previously mistaken for the closely related red spitting cobra, Naja pallida. However, the red spitting cobra has only one dark band crossing the throat, and lacks the pair of dark throat spots seen in the Nubian spitting cobra (3).
- Total length: up to 151 cm (2)
Nubian spitting cobra biology
Relatively little is known about the biology of this recently described species. The Nubian spitting cobra is reported to be nocturnal (2) (4), although juveniles may be more active during the day (4). A ground-dwelling species, this snake typically hides in holes, brush piles or under other ground cover during the day, and if disturbed will raise the front part of its body and spread its ‘hood’ (4). The Nubian spitting cobra is thought to be a good swimmer (5).
Like other spitting cobras, the Nubian spitting cobra has the ability to ‘spit’ or squirt venom at potential attackers (4) (6). This is a defensive behaviour which aims the venom at the attacker’s eyes, where in other spitting cobras it may cause pain, damage to the cornea or even blindness. Although the venom is harmless if it lands on intact skin or in the mouth, bites by spitting cobras can sometimes be dangerous to humans (6).
The Nubian spitting cobra is reported to prey on amphibians, rodents, birds and possibly other snakes (4). This species lays eggs (1), with clutches potentially being similar in size to those of the closely related red spitting cobra (N. pallida), which typically lays between 6 and 15 eggs (6).Top
Nubian spitting cobra range
The Nubian spitting cobra has a widespread but patchy distribution in north-eastern Africa, particularly in the south-eastern part of the Sahara region. It occurs in Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger and Eritrea, with most specimens having been recorded in Egypt (3).
An apparently isolated population of Nubian spitting cobras occurs at elevations of around 1,800 to 2,000 metress on Jebel Marra, Sudan (3).Top
Nubian spitting cobra habitat
The most commonly documented habitats of the Nubian spitting cobra are in arid regions, including dry savanna and semi-desert (2). However, within this broader range the Nubian spitting cobra appears to favour relatively moist areas (3) (4).Top
Nubian spitting cobra status
The Nubian spitting cobra has yet to be classified by the IUCN.Top
Nubian spitting cobra threats
Within Egypt, the Nubian spitting cobra is uncommon and localised and is considered to be ‘Near Threatened’. However, worldwide this species is not believed to be at risk of extinction (2). There are no known major threats to the Nubian spitting cobra.Top
Nubian spitting cobra conservation
There are no known specific conservation measures currently in place for the Nubian spitting cobra.Top
Find out more
Find out more about the Nubian spitting cobra and other reptiles:
The Reptile Database:
More information on reptile conservation:
International Reptile Conservation Foundation:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- Active at night.
The Reptile Database (May, 2012)
- Baha El Din, S. (2005) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt. American University Press, Cairo.
- Wüster, W. and Broadley, D.G. (2003) A new species of spitting cobra (Naja) from north-eastern Africa (Serpentes: Elapidae). Journal of Zoology, 259: 345-359.
WCH Clinical Toxinology Resources - Naja nubiae (May, 2012)
- Hegner, D. (1994) Egyptské kobry rodu Naja- (1) Naja pallida. Akvárium Terárium, 37: 35-37.
- O’Shea, M. (2008) Venomous Snakes of the World. New Holland Publishers, London.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.