Naja sumatrana – Equatorial Spitting Cobra

Equatorial Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana) golden morph

Equatorial Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana) golden morph in situ in South Thailand

Of the three currently known true cobras (Naja genus) in Thailand, the Equatorial Spitting Cobra, Naja sumatrana is by far the rarest of all. This species also known as Sumatran Spitting Cobra is in Thailand currently only known to be found on the peninsula, South of the Isthmus of Kra. Being true forest dwellers, these cobras are rarely sighted. So far, we have encountered this species only once, which goes to show it is not an easy species to come across.


Dangerous? Very dangerous, bites potentially fatal; fixed front-fanged, potent venom, and a fast agile snake.
Venom Neurotoxic, cardiotoxic & cytotoxic
Length up to 1.50m
Diet Rodents, frogs, lizards, and snakes
How easy to find Rarely encountered.
Best time of year So far our experience is based on just one specimen, so we can not say more than that we found one in April.
Best time of day From what we read daytime might be best, likely to be similar to the other cobra species. However, we have seen only one specimen which happened to be foraging at 22:00 at night.
Threats If any threat it is likely to be habitat loss
Notes: The Thai locality of this species are usually yellow/ golden morphs, but we have heard about some records of black morphs. Further South in Malaysia the black morph seem to be more prevalent. As the name suggests Equatorial Spitting Cobras spit venom, so watch out.
Equatorial Spitting Cobra, Naja sumatrana (golden morph) foraging

A foraging Equatorial Spitting Cobra, Naja sumatrana (golden morph) in Southern Thailand.
© Parinya Pawangkhanant –


To be continued…

Similar-looking species

  • Naja kaouthia – Monocled Cobra
    (usually up to 1.5m, rarely over 2m)
    This species can be similar in coloration. E.g. the ‘Suphan morph’ as it is often called, is similar to the golden morph of the Equatorial Spitting Cobra, and there have been some occasional records of black morph Equatorial Spitting Cobras in Thailand which would be quite similar to the dark specimens of the Monocled Cobra. Generally speaking the Monocled Cobra tend to be quite dark in the Southern part of the country where it overlaps with the Equatorial Spitting Cobra, whereas most specimens of the spitting cobra species tend to be the yellow/ golden color in its Thai range.
    Most of the dark Monocled Cobras in the South tend to have a clear monocle marking on their hood, which would be one way to distinquish it from a black morph Equatorial Spitting Cobra. The Monocled Cobra tends to have 21 midbody scale rows (occasionally 19 rows), Equatorial Spitting Cobra has 15 – 19 midbody scale rows; if you get the chance to safely count these 😉 .
  • Naja siamensis – Indochinese Spitting Cobra
    (usually up to 1.2m, rarely over 1.5m)
    This species is normally found North of the Isthmus of Kra. Lighter morphs of the Naja siamensis are found further North in Thailand, in some parts of its range it is black which is similar to the Naja sumatrana. The Siamese Spitting Cobra usually has 21 midbody scale rows (occasionally 19 rows), Equatorial Spitting Cobra has 15 – 19 midbody scale rows.
  • Oligodon fasciolatus – Small-banded Kukri Snake
    (max. about 0.8 – 0.9m)
    Small-banded Kukri Snake, Oligodon fasciolatus orange morph

    Small-banded Kukri Snake, Oligodon fasciolatus orange morph, Phetchaburi, Thailand

    Some people familiar with this species will likely frown upon reading this species made it to the list of similar-looking species. And indeed the large majority of the specimens of the Oligodon fasciolatus look nothing like this cobra.
    But every now and then we have encountered the uncommon yellow/ orange color morphs of the Small-banded Kukri Snake with virtually no banding which is somewhat similar to the golden morph Equatorial Spitting Cobra. The kukri does not grow as large as the cobra. Also in these band-less orange specimens of this kukri snake that we have encountered, the typical kukri head mask was still clearly visible which would be an easy way to tell them apart.


To be continued

Range & habitat

To be continued…


To be continued…

How to find this species in Thailand?

In general most of the Thai elapids found on the land are a bit tough to target. They spent a lot of time hiding in holes, and when they are actively foraging they move around a lot.
Same counts for the Equatorial Spitting Cobra. It is virtually impossible to target this species except by simply spending a LOT of time in the forests in its range. Can be active both in day and night so you never know when it will happen. Our experience is limited to one encounter with the Sumatran Spitting Cobra at 22:00 at night in April 2018. However, most sources state they are most active in daytime, which is likely similar to the activity patterns of the other Naja species found in Thailand. Based on that information, we expect searching in the mornings along roadsides & streams in the jungle, forest edges or other open spots which receive some sunlight for basking would provide the best chance for an encounter. But as mentioned, this is merely guessing based on experiences with the other cobra species.

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