It spits right at you with perfect aim. Its venom can burn your skin. And if it hits your eyes you could go blind. This is one disrespectful snake. There are about 20 species of spitting cobra. You can find some of them in Africa’s savannas, deserts and tropical forests. The rest are waiting for you in Asia, where they prefer mangroves, swamps and rice paddies. The longest known type is Africa’s Ashe’s spitting cobra, which can grow up to 2.4 m (8ft) in length. Stick around to see some tips on how to survive an encounter with this dangerous reptile and its flying venom. Are you a fan of these slithering threats? Hit that subscribe button for more nope ropes, hiss tubes and danger noodles.

Step 1. Clean up

If you live in a place where spitting cobras are endemic, you can keep them away by ensuring the surroundings of your house are clear. This means keeping debris and trash or anything that could attract rodents out of reach. This way, you won’t have snakes looking for a snack at your house.

Step 2. Identify them

The spitting cobra can look very different depending on what specific species you’re looking at. They can be red, black or brown with green. Some have stripes, spots or monocles on their hood.
Their fangs aim towards the front of their mouth and they are typically very small compared to a non-spitting cobra. But all you need to know is that they are still cobras. Spitting or not, all of them are venomous. If it expands its hood and rears up the top third of its body in a defensive posture, you might be in danger and should back off immediately.

Step 3. When in doubt, run

Do you think you’re safe from spitting cobras cause you live far from Africa and Asia? Well, think again. In 2021, a woman in North Carolina called the police claiming to have seen an exotic-looking snake outside. After seeing photos of the black and white striped snake, they identified it as an African zebra spitting cobra. The zebra cobra had escaped from a local citizen named Christopher Gifford, who kept 75 snakes and lizards in his parents’ home. After three days of searching, the police received a call from a reporter who had seen the snake and gave them an approximate location. They caught it by putting glue strips on the area. Animal control then brought it to a safe place for snakes where they released it unhurt. The woman and the reporter both did the right thing by calling the police and keeping their distance.

Step 4. Protect your eyes

If you find yourself face-to-face with a spitting cobra, don’t make any sudden movements. The cobra will perceive and recognize your face immediately. If you move your head abruptly, it will be much more likely to spit at you. Their spitting range goes from about 1 m (3.3 ft) to 3 m (10 ft). They often aim for the eyes and have impressive accuracy. According to scientists, they likely evolved their ability to aim for the face after Homo sapiens began to interact with them. Slowly put anything you have at hand between your face and the cobra. This is a staring contest you don’t want to win. If you don’t have any objects, use your arm or hand. Anything to protect your eyes. Their venom is highly cytotoxic, meaning that it can destroy cells. If it lands on your eyes, get away from the cobra, irrigate your eyes as much as possible and seek medical attention. If you don’t act quickly, the venom could damage your eye tissues and even cause blindness.

Step 5. The pain cocktail

Evolution has given the spitting cobras a perfect weapon to keep predators away. Unlike regular cobras, spitting cobras have high levels of proteins called phospholipase A2. This toxin mixes with the regular proteins in their venom, creating a concoction that causes a massive pain response in nerves. If the venom hits your skin, prepare to feel a burning sensation and develop some painful blisters.

Step 6. Beware of the bite

In case you didn’t notice, these reptiles are trying very hard to keep you away. And although their bite is typically reserved for hunting prey, if you continue to threaten it, they will bite you too. Their venom can inflict damage on nerve and cardiac cells. If you get bitten, you better get medical help immediately. A tourniquet can concentrate the venom in one area, which might lead to necrosis and amputation. Remove your jewelry and apply a light bandage while you rush to a hospital. Prangmart Cheroenwai was a snake catcher in Thailand. Once, while trying to catch a spitting cobra, he recklessly grabbed its tail with his bare hands. The snake turned rapidly and bit his thumb. It took him two hours to get to the nearest hospital. He was given the antivenom but unfortunately, he had an allergic reaction to it. He spent about 15 days in the hospital while doctors treated his hand and controlled his infection. But he made it out alive. The big scar on his hand is a reminder of how dangerous it can be to face these animals without protection.

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