On the ‘spitting’ behaviour in cobras (Serpentes: Elapidae)


Parmly Hearing Institute, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL 60626, USA


Spitting' behaviour was examined in selected taxa of Naja and Hemachatus. A description of the kinematics and variations of spitting in each species was generated from the analysis of videotape records of over 400 spits. Interspecific variation was noted in the spitting behaviour. Intraspecific variation ranged from very stereotypic spitting in N. siamensis, and H. haemachatus, to N. pallida and N. mossambica in which every aspect of the behaviour was variable. A striking lunge and exhalant burst of air may occur as part of the spitting behaviour, but are not essential agents in venom spitting.