Thai National Parks

Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Indo-Chinese spitting cobra

Thai: งูเห่าสยามพ่นพิษ, ngu haow Sayam ponn phit

Binomial name: Naja siamensis, Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti, 1768

The Indochinese spitting cobra (Naja siamensis) (Thai: งูเห่า, pronounced: nguu hao) also called the Thai spitting cobra, Siamese spitting cobra or black-and-white spitting cobra, is a species of spitting cobra found in Southeast Asia.

Description

This is a medium-sized cobra with a rather thin body compared to other cobras. The body color of this species is variable from grey to brown to black, with white spots or stripes. The white patterning can be so prolific that it covers the majority of the snake. The highly distinctive black and white colour phase is common in central Thailand, specimens from western Thailand are mostly black, whereas individuals from elsewhere are usually brown. The hood mark can be spectacle-shaped, irregular or missing altogether, especially in adults. Adults average 0.9 to 1.2 m long, and can reach a maximum of 1.6 m sigfig=1 though this is very rare.

This species should not be confused with the Monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia), which has similar habitat, size and appearance.

Scalation

There are 25-31 scale rows around the hood, 19-21 just ahead of midbody; 153-174 ventral scales, 45-54 subcaudal scales, and basal pairs are sometimes undivided.

Distribution and habitat

It is found in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. May occur in eastern Myanmar but no records are known. It occupies a range of habitats including lowlands, hills, plains, and woodland. It can also be found in jungle habitat and it is sometimes attracted to human settlements because of the abundant populations of rodents in and around these areas.

Behavior and diet

It is a primarily nocturnal species. It shows variable temperament depending on the time of day it is encountered. When threatened during daylight hours, the snake is generally timid and seeks refuge in the nearest burrow. However, when the snake is threatened at night, it is more aggressive and is more likely to stand its ground, rear up and display its hood and spit out its venom. If spitting venom doesn't work, it will strike and bite as a last resort. When biting, this species tends to hold on and chew savagely. It usually feeds on rodents, toads, and other snakes.

Reproduction

The snake is oviparous. The female will lay 13-19 eggs 100 days after oviposition. Eggs will hatch after 48 to 70 days depending on the temperature of incubation. Offspring are independent as soon as they have hatched. Hatchlings are 12–20 cm long and, because they possess fully developed venom delivery systems, should be treated with the same respect as adults.

Venom

Like most other spitting cobras, its venom is primarily a postsynaptic neurotoxin and cytotoxin (necrotizing or tissue-death). The of its venom is 1.07-1.42 mg/gram of mouse body weight. Bite symptoms include pain, swelling and necrosis around the wound. The bite of this snake is potentially lethal to an adult human. Deaths, which generally happen due to paralysis and consequent asphyxiation, mainly occur in rural areas where the procurement of antivenin is difficult.

If the snake spits venom into the eyes of an individual, the individual will experience immediate and severe pain as well as temporary and sometimes even permanent blindness.

Taxonomy

This species was long confused with the monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia) and the Chinese cobra (Naja atra), and extensive variation in pattern and scalation contributed to this confusion. Detailed morphological and molecular analyses revealed it to be a distinct species during the 1990s.

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Site notes

This species shows both nocturnal and diurnal behaviour.

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Subphylum
Vertebrata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Serpentes
Family
Elapidae
Genus
Naja
Species
Naja siamensis

Common names

  • German: Indochinesische Speikobra
  • English:
    • Indo-Chinese spitting cobra
    • Siamese spitting cobra
    • Black and white spitting cobra
    • Thai spitting cobra
  • Thai:
    • งูเห่าสยามพ่นพิษ, ngu haow Sayam ponn phit
    • งูเห่าอิสานพ่นพิษ, ngu haow Isaan ponn phit
    • งูเห่าด่างพ่นพิษ, ngu haow dang ponn phit
    • งูเห่าพ่นพิษสีน้ำตาล, ngu haow ponn phit see namdtan
    • งูเห่าดำพ่นพิษ, ngu haow damm ponn phit

Synonyms

  • Naja siamensis, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Naja (Naja) siamensis, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2009)
  • Naja siamensis, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Naja siamensis, Wolfgang Wüster & Roger Stephen Thorpe (1994)
  • Naja cf. atra, Wolfgang Wüster & Roger Stephen Thorpe (1992)
  • Naja atra, Wolfgang Wüster & Roger Stephen Thorpe (1991)
  • Naja sputatrix atra, Lingenhöle & Ludwig Trutnau (1989)
  • Naja sputatrix isanensis, Lingenhöle & Ludwig Trutnau (1989)
  • Naja isanensis, Wirot Nutaphand (1986)
  • Naja naja isanensis, Wirot Nutaphand (1982)
  • Naja naja sputatrix, Wirot Nutaphand (1982)
  • Naja naja atra, Wirot Nutaphand (1982)
  • Naja tripudians, Wirot Nutaphand (1971)
  • Naja oxiana, Wirot Nutaphand (1971)
  • Naja naja kaouthia variety C, Taylor (1965)
  • Naja naja kaouthia, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Naja siamensis, Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti (1768)

Conservation status

Vulnerable (IUCN3.1)

Vulnerable (IUCN3.1)

Naja siamensis

Naja siamensis

Copyright

Naja siamensis (juvenile)

Naja siamensis (juvenile)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Distribution map of Indo-Chinese spitting cobra, Naja siamensis in Thailand
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Bang Lamung District, Chonburi
  • Bueng Bun District, Sisaket
  • Cha-Am District, Phetchaburi
  • Chai Badan District, Lopburi
  • Chonnabot District, Khon Kaen
  • Chum Phuang District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Doi Saket District, Chiang Mai
  • Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai
  • Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khanu Woralaksaburi District, Kamphaeng Phet
  • Khao Chamao District, Rayong
  • Khao Khitchakut National Park
  • Khlong Hat District, Sa Kaeo
  • Khok Samrong District, Lopburi
  • Lan Sak District, Uthai Thani
  • Mae Poen District, Nakhon Sawan
  • Mae Ramat District, Tak
  • Manorom District, Chainat
  • Muak Lek District, Saraburi
  • Mueang Buriram District, Buriram
  • Mueang Chainat District, Chainat
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Lampang District, Lampang
  • Mueang Mukdahan District, Mukdahan
  • Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Mueang Pan District, Lampang
  • Mueang Roi Et District, Roi Et
  • Mueang Sa Kaeo District, Sa Kaeo
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Nikhom Kham Soi District, Mukdahan
  • Noen Maprang District, Phitsanulok
  • Nong Han District, Udon Thani
  • Pai District, Mae Hong Son
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Phimai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Si Than Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Prachantakham District, Prachinburi
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • Sattahip District, Chonburi
  • Sawankhalok District, Sukhothai
  • Si Racha District, Chonburi
  • Takhli District, Nakhon Sawan
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Warin Chamrap District, Ubon Ratchathani
  • Watthana Nakhon District, Sa Kaeo
  • Yod Dom Wildlife Sanctuary

Range map of Naja siamensis in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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