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WATCH: Mozambique spitting cobra keeps Durban neighbourhood on its toes

24 October, 02:37 PM

A 1.4m Mozambique spitting cobra was captured outside a house in Verulam, Durban, on Tuesday.

School children in the area spotted the snake entering a property last Friday, but after an initial search, security officials failed to find it.

The same local security company was then called on Tuesday after the snake was spotted again. A snake catcher was also summoned to the scene.

"It is the same snake because they are very territorial, and it was found in the same area," snake catcher Jason Arnold from Universal Reptiles told News24.

"At 1.4m, it is very big for a cobra and you do not get them any bigger than that."

According to the security company, Reaction Unit SA, one of its officers and Arnold had to dig up a small portion of a steep embankment to capture the reptile after it was seen going into a hole there.

The Mozambique spitting cobra is fairly widespread throughout South Africa, not just Mozambique, Arnold said.

Highly venomous

"The cobra is capable of both spraying and spitting its venom, but the spray is mostly for self-defence, to allow the snake to get away.

"The bite is highly venomous, breaking down tissue and causing massive damage that can leave permanent scarring."

That said, the chances of dying from a Mozambique spitting cobra's bite are quite slim as the venom is very slow-working, Arnold explained, adding that this gives people ample time to reach a hospital for appropriate treatment.

"The venom will not do much when sprayed onto the skin unless it enters the bloodstream, otherwise it is just a protein that will break down.

"If the fine spray enters the eyes, it is very painful, and your eyes will burn until you wash it off with water," Arnold said.

"I have been sprayed in the eyes myself before, but after 48 hours my eyes were back to normal and I don't need to wear glasses or anything afterwards," he said.

All snakes captured by Universal Reptiles are released into the wild, either into nature reserves or other wild natural areas. While the aim is to release them as far away from human activity as possible, human encroachment into these natural habitats is making this increasingly difficult.

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