Family : ELAPIDAE
Species : Naja sumatrana
Maximum Size : 1.6 metres
The Equatorial Spitting
Cobra, or Sumatran Cobra, Naja sumatrana is commonly encountered in
lowland, secondary, disturbed habitats : the species has adapted to heavily
disturbed habitats in towns and villages. It appears to be less abundant in intact,
primary lowland forests.
In Singapore, where it is called the Black Spitting
Cobra, it is often encountered in leafy suburbs and occasionally in high density housing
estates. When not active these snakes may retreat to cooler, sheltered
places such as behind household clutter in gardens, or in cavities behind
open drains and garden walls.
This is a highly venomous species which should be treated with caution.
Typically this snake prefers to avoid confrontation and is not considered
'aggressive', however large adults will
stand erect, expand their hood and hiss loudly if feeling threatened. If
the perceived attacker does not back off from this threat display the snake
will then attempt to spray venom into the eyes of its tormentor. Unless such
venom is washed away immediately, permanent damage to the tissues
surrounding the eye can occur. Envenomation through a bite from this species
may result in death.
In most of the Malay Peninsula and Borneo this snake is black to bluish-black in colour, with
pale markings in the throat area particularly in juveniles. In other parts
of the Malay Peninsula, particularly the northern areas, and Sumatra and
adjacent islands the species is brown in colour. Some populations may possess
narrow, pale bars on the dorsum.
The body is thick, and the tail short. The head is distinct from the neck, and
the snout is rounded.
Das (2010) describes the species as nocturnal, however in Singapore it
appears to be almost exclusively diurnal. Prey items include rats, mice and some
species of amphibian, in particular the
This species occurs in Southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore,
Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Borneo and parts of the Southern Philippines
Fig 1 : This fully-grown specimen, measuring around 1.5 metres, was
cornered under some stairs - it immediately expanded its hood and hissed
loudly in an impressive threat display.
Fig 2 : Another large specimen warming itself in a sunlit gully : under
direct sunlight it has a bluish tinge.
Fig 3 : Hunting for prey amongst leaf litter.
Fig 4 : A juvenile spreads its hood in alarm as it crosses a rural road.
Note the white markings at the margin of the good.
All photos taken in Singapore.
: H12, H14