The Red Spitting Cobra (Naja Pallida) is a relatively small cobra that is quite slender in body proportions. They have a small head (some specimens can have big heads with huge swollen venom glands clearly seen at the side of the head) with large eyes, with a round pupil. The tail is long and the body is cylindrical of shape. Most adults range in length between 70 – 120 cm with a mamximum of 150 cm, the tail is fairly young and can be 15 – 19% of the total body length. The colour of this cobra can be variable depending on the origin of the snake. The specimens from southern Kenya and northern Tanzania have a orange red colour, with a broad steel blue or black throat band. In some specimens we also see two or tree throat bands but this is not common for specimens from East Africa.
The ventral side is also reddish from colour with sometimes a crèmes white throat. Specimens from other areas can be yellow, pinkish, pink-grey, pale red or steel grey which can be mistaken for dark green, most of them will have the throat band, but this throat band will fade or even sometimes disappear in larger adults. The true red specimens will become red-brown with increasing their size.
The Red Spitting Cobra together with the Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) and the West African Brown Spitting Cobra (Naja katiensis) were thought to be a subspecies of the Black Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis) for quite some time. After this is the Naja pallida seen as a subspecies of Naja mossambica and named Naja mossambica pallida, this confusion still exists especially in older articles and books. Now the Red Spitting Cobra is placed as a separate species. Specimens from Sudan , Egypt and Eritrea may be a separate species but research needs to be done.
The Red Spitting Cobra is know to occur in northern Tanzania , Kenya where it is wide spread in the dry country of eastern and northern Kenya . They also occur in North and east Ethiopia , through Somalia , Ogaden , Eritrea to northern Sudan and southern Egypt . Red Spitting Cobras can be found up to 1200 m altitude.
Adult are mostly nocturnal and hiode in day time in termite hills, old logs, under ground or in brush piles to cover the day. Juveniles seem to be more day active. These cobras prefer grassland semi desserts and savannah. They are often found near water holes where they hunt on frogs which is there main food, they are also known to be cannibalistic, this could be the reason that the juveniles and smaller specimens are day active while adult are preferred nocturnal.
Red Spitting Cobras are in captivity pleasant and thankful snakes to keep. Freshly wild caught specimens can be very defensive when disturbed, they will rear up there front part of the body flatten off there narrow hood hiss loud and spit there venom in the direction of there attacker, when there attacker is not impressed they will often choose to move away and hide. After keeping them for some weeks in captivity they will calm down fairly quick and some keepers will never see them hood again.
When kept in a big enclosure are Red Spitters active and curious snakes that will check al the insides of there enclosure. My Red Spitters are pretty docile but can be fierce and furious when feeding time is there, live prey items will be hunted down, but also dead prey items offered will be taken on a pretty aggressive way. I handle my Red Spitters by tailing them and keeping them away from my body with a snakehook. When working with these snakes I always wear safety glasses, or even better a face mask. Juvenile Red Spitters are fast moving and pretty easy to agitate.