A black spitting cobra (Naja nigricincta woodi) was the last thing a family in Sandbaai expected to find in their home last week in the early hours of the morning.
The snake, which is approximately 1.6 metres in length, was first thought to be a ring-necked spitting cobra (commonly known as a rinkhals) by Corné and Hugo Uys from Corné Uys Outdoors, who received the one-in-a-million callout at 00:30 on Tuesday 7 January.
“We thought it was a rinkhals when we got the call because you do not get black spitting cobras in the Overberg,” said Corné who just finished writing his matric last year.
Black spitting cobras occur east of Cape Town and northwards into much of Namaqualand, extending east to Tswalo and Witsand, and north into Southern Namibia. So how did this snake end up in the Overstrand?
“We think it hitched a ride with a family member who was visiting Sandbaai from the Cederberg,” explained Corné and Hugo. “It must have slithered into her car or luggage when she left home and then made its way into the house here in Sandbaai. She arrived on Sunday 5 January, so the snake was in the house for two days before it was found.”
Luckily for the man who found the black spitting cobra behind his bar fridge, he was wearing reading glasses which protected his eyes when the snake spat at him. These cobras have a cytotoxic venom which can cause severe pain, swelling, tissue damage and, if it gets into your eyes, possible blindness.
According to Corné, black spitting cobras can generate venom as fast as humans generate saliva and can spit accurately up to two metres away, making them very dangerous if you come close to them.
A day or two after the snake’s capture, Corné and Hugo were contacted by a film crew from the Czech Republic who heard about the snake through one of Corné’s friends. They are busy creating a series on spitting snakes in South Africa and the only snake they had not yet managed to find was a black spitting cobra.
The film crew will be coming to Hermanus on 15 January to document this rare snake before taking it back and releasing it in the Cederberg with Corné.
“We would like to remind everyone that we are in snake season and it is easy to confuse dangerous snakes with harmless ones,” said Corné. “Instead of trying to catch it yourself, call your local snake guys. Snake season seems to have started later than usual due to the weird weather we have had and we are still expecting to see many more snakes this year.”
Corné can be contacted for snake removals on 076 075 8004 (Facebook: Corné Uys Outdoors), or you can contact Johnathan Powers from Snake Removals Hermanus on 082 352 6000 (Facebook: Snake Removals Hermanus).