Africa’s Naja ashei is not only the world’s largest species of spitting cobra on the planet, but it is also one of the most venomous snakes known! Don’t you just love it when venomous snakes start breaking world records?!?
Also known as Ashe’s Spitting Cobra or the Giant Spitting Cobra, Naja ashei can be found in dry lowlands of northern and eastern Kenya as well as northeastern Uganda, southern Ethiopia and southern Somalia.
The snake is named after the late James Ashe, the founder of the Bio-Ken Snake Farm research center in Watamu, Kenya where the original snake was discovered.
“A new species of giant spitting cobra is exciting and reinforces the obvious – that there have to be many other unreported species but hundreds are being lost as their habitats disappear under the continued mismanagement of our planet,” said the group’s chairman, Kenyan environmentalist Richard Leakey.
Herpetologist Royjan Taylor, who manages the Bio-Ken snake farm said, “…that although the new species is not listed as endangered, conservation efforts must be increased since the reptile is threatened by human activities and encroachment.” He then went on to say, “Although I am a naturalist and conservationist who is passionate about all wildlife, my heart goes out to the reptiles that are often misunderstood — especially snakes.”
So just how big is big?
What would you say if I told you specimens of Naja ashei routinely reach a length of 6 feet?
But wait! There’s more to this giant!
Blood and tissue samples taken from one of these snakes, helped confirm what many experts have long believed: that these massive, aggressive, extremely venomous snakes which can actually grow to more than 9 feet! Wow!
What makes this snake even more amazing is the fact that it contains enough venom to kill between 15 and 20 people!
The good news … if you happen to be bitten by this cobra … is that it is has a rather low systemic toxicity. Huh? What this means is that as long as you receive the appropriate treatment, it is quite likely an attack will not be fatal – you should survive. But don’t celebrate quite yet. The venom from the Naja ashei has an incredibly strong necrotizing effect. What does this mean to a victim? It means it kills the tissue around the wound. Ouch!
And yes, this cobra can spit the venom at you with deadly accuracy – it is not just a bite that can cause a significant problem! Blindness is quite likely with a successful spitting because the venom destroys the cornea.
My advice? Stay clear away from this snake and leave the handling of such a specimen to the experts!
By Candace, SaveTheReptiles.com