You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Black-necked’ tag.

Black necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) image from angolafieldgroup.com

Black necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) image from angolafieldgroup.com

Who doesn’t love cobras? These beautiful and dangerous snakes have fascinated humankind since prehistory.  Ferrebeekeeper has already written about a lovely red spitting cobra from East Africa: today we cast our eyes to sub-Saharan Africa to learn about the black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) another spitting cobra which lives across the great continent.

naja_nigricollis

The black-necked spitting cobra lives across a huge swath of Africa—from Northern Namibia to southern Mauritania in the west and from the Somali coast down to Tanzania in the east.  The adaptable snakes can be found everywhere throughout this vast range except for the jungle fastnesses of the Congo rainforest.  Except in dense rainforests, the snakes do well in all sorts of ecoregions and they are famous for thriving in scrublands, forests, grasslands, and deserts (as well as in new habitats like farms and cities). Although the snakes largely prey on small rodents, they are gifted hunters and can also live on virtually any small creatures (including arthropods, birds, reptiles, amphibians) and even on eggs.  Its own predators include a variety of fierce raptors and certain other snakes.  I find it alarming that Africa contains snakes capable of catching and eating a 2.3 meter (seven foot long) cobra which sprays venom!

The black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis)

The black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis)

The black-necked spitting cobra comes in an assortment of colors from yellowish copper to olive to reddish to gray.  Many have distinct bands of red, white or gray on their necks (although some individuals are missing these bandings entirely).  The most dramatic specimens are glossy black with red or white necks—like death metal priests! Female snake usually lay clutches of 10-15 eggs, but they can lay up to 22 eggs at a time.  The snakes can be diurnal or nocturnal to suit circumstances (and their mood). Unlike the genteel red spitting cobra, black-necked spitting cobras love to spit venom and will do so at the slightest provocation (or for no reason at all—like Kid Rock).

In comparison with some of their relatives, the black-necked spitting cobras are not especially poisonous.  Only five to ten percent of untreated human bites prove fatal.  Their venom primarily consists of cytotoxins—compounds which damage cells instead of attacking organs or neuro-connections.  Although fatalities from bites is low, bites can be accompanied with substantial tissue necrosis.

Why is he smiling about that? What a jerk!

Why is he smiling about that? What a jerk!

In conclusion, the black-necked spitting cobra is a very interesting and visually striking snake (not to mention a born survivor) but I feel it would make an extremely poor housepet.

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) weighs from 3.5 to 6.7 kg (7.7 to 15 pounds) and can have a wingspan of up to  135 to 177 cm (53 to 70 in). The swans mainly eat vegetation but they supplement their diet with small arthropods and little aquatic vertebrates. They are the smallest species of swan, but the largest waterfowl of South America (where they ranges from southern Brazil to the Falkland Islands).  Wonderfully, the black-necked swan is not on the edge of extinction or even threatened, but is commonplace.  The black-necked swan like freshwater lakes and marshes.  In winter the birds fly to the north of their range, whereas they spends summer in Patagonia and Chile.  The species can be easily recognized by the distinctive black head with red knobs near the base of the bill and white stripe behind eye.  Like mute swans of Europe and Black Swans of Australia, they are almost always silent.

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

Once my parents and I were at the Central Park zoo where there was a pair of these magnificent birds swimming in a pool surrounded by glass.  My father was wearing athletic shoes which were red, black, white, and gray.  The male swan took great umbrage with these shoes, presumably thinking they were the infuriating face of a rival swan.  He would make magnificent and terrifying aquatic attacks upon the glass behind which my father was standing until finally we were driven off and he had his sweetie all to himself (with no romantic threats coming from footwear).

Argh! No shoes please!

Argh! No shoes please!

Ye Olde Ferrebeekeeper Archives

November 2020
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30