If you’re out for a leisurely stroll in Western Africa, say Mali or Senegal, here’s some advice: don’t overturn any logs or go poking around in small bushes. You may come face-to-face with a West African Spitting Cobra, also known as the Mali cobra or Katien spitting cobra. If this occurs, do not mention the cobra’s small, two-foot size or its lovely black eyes. Do not talk about your shared appetite for frogs’ legs or animosity for other snakes. Do not mention the heat of Africa or the vastness of the desert. Just be non-threatening, and get out of there.
The reason you shouldn’t provoke a cobra is because they will spit venom on you. And while it’s ok to get venom on unbroken skin, if they spit in your eyes (and they will), that is no fun. You will go temporarily blind and be in excruciating pain. Like all cobras, the West African Spitting Cobra has long ribs in its neck, which the snake can raise to form a hood. If you witness a cobra with its hood out, it’s ticked off. It’s probably going to:
A) Bite you
B) Try to spit in your eyes
Maybe you’re lucky and can get out of there before either of these things happen. The cobra isn’t a bully; it just doesn’t like to be attacked when it’s chilling out. Think about how cool it would be if you could spit venom on someone when you were trying to relax: “Hey, Sam! How’s that book you’re reading? You look like you’re really into it… Ahhhhhhhh!!! My EYES!!!!!!!!!!!!!”