Naja nigricincta

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Naja nigricincta
Naja nigricincta nigricincta.jpg
N. n. nigricincta in Etosha National Park
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
N. nigricincta
Binomial name
Naja nigricincta
Bogert, 1940
Naja nigricincta distribution range.png
The approximate range of Naja nigricincta in Africa
  • Naja nigricollis nigricincta Bogert 1940
  • Naja nigricollis var. fasciata Bocage 1895
  • Naja mossambica nigricincta Broadley 1968
  • Naja mossambica woodi Broadley 1968
  • Naja nigricollis woodi Broadley 1974
  • Naja woodi Bauer & Branch 2003

Naja nigricincta is a species of spitting cobra in the genus Naja belonging to the family Elapidae.

This species had long been considered to be a subspecies of the black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis), but morphological and genetic differences have led to its recognition as a separate species.[2]


Two subspecies are currently recognized under Naja nigricincta.[1] The nominate subspecies N. n. nigricincta, commonly known as the zebra spitting cobra or western barred spitting cobra, is given its name because of the dark crossbars that run the length of the snake's body. The subspecies N. n. woodi, commonly known as the black spitting cobra, is solid black and is found only in the desert areas of southern Africa. Both subspecies are smaller than N. nigricollis; with average adult lengths of less than 1.5 metres (4.9 ft).[3][4]

Subspecies Taxon author Common name Geographic range Regional differences
N. n. nigricincta Bogert 1940[5] Zebra spitting cobra, Western barred spitting cobra, Zebra Snake, Zebra Cobra. Central and northern Namibia and southern Angola Grey brown, yellow, or pink with dark bands from head to tail
N. n. woodi Pringle 1955[6] Black spitting cobra Southern Namibia, southern Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa[1] Solid matte black as adults. Babies are grey bodied with a solid black head. Distinctively different from Naja nigricollis (S.Angeli 2017)


Naja nigricincta showing zebra-like stripes

Naja nigricincta is an oviparous venomous spitting cobra with dark brown to black body and zebra-like vertical whitish or light yellow stripes along the dorsal side. These stripes are generally evenly spaced and can be complete or fragmented. The ventral scales range from white to orange in color. In juvenile snakes the overall coloration is lighter than in the adults.

Like all other Naja species, this snake can flatten head and neck into a hood. The head and hood are uniformly dark brown or black.

The venom of Naja nigricincta can cause massive hemorrhaging, necrosis and paralysis in bite victims. These snakes can also spit their venom, hitting their enemies with great accuracy and causing temporary or permanent blindness.[7]


This species is native to parts of southern Africa (southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Naja nigricincta at the Reptile Database. Accessed 13 April 2017.
  2. ^ Wuster, Wolfgang. "The phylogeny of cobras inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences: Evolution of venom spitting and the phylogeography of the African spitting cobras (Serpentes: Elapidae: Naja nigricollis complex)" (PDF). Bangor University. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  3. ^ Mastenbroek, Richard. "Black-neck Spitting Cobra" (PDF). DEVENOMIZED. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Kraits Cobras Sea Snakes and Relatives: Elapidae - Black-necked Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis): Species Accounts". Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  5. ^ Bogert, CM (1940). "Herpetological results of the Vernay Angola Expedition. I. Snakes, including an arrangement of the African Colubridae". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 77: 1–107.
  6. ^ Pringle, J (1955). "A new subspecies of the spitting cobra Naja nigricollis from the Cape Province". Annals of the Natal Museum. 13 (2): 253–254.
  7. ^ Jake Boy The Harvard University Herpetology Course - OEB 167 - Encyclopedia of life