NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Spitting Cobra Finds Its Way Into The Backyard Of NPR's East Africa Correspondent


Our international correspondents often find themselves in unusual situations - sometimes, even at home. NPR's East Africa correspondent, Eyder Peralta, sends us this reporter's notebook on the spitting cobra in his backyard.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: We didn't realize we had snakes until our dog came into the house with a swollen eye. It looked like he'd taken a hit from Floyd Mayweather. The vet took one look and said, spitting cobra. This should have called for panic.


PERALTA: But we live in Nairobi. It's a huge metropolis - malls, cars, high rises. And it's not lions and elephants we encounter. In our backyard, we see monkeys and slugs the length of your palm, chameleons, porcupines and birds of all kinds, little flitty things that feed on nectar and others straight out of "Jurassic Park."


PERALTA: Inside the house at night, no matter where you are - in the shower or the kitchen - there is always a gecko looking right at you.

KALILA: Here is our dog running through the rivers.

PERALTA: My kids lead barefoot lives. Just the other day, they bumbled down our yard to a small creek to release some tiny fish they had caught the day before.

KALILA: Never.

PERALTA: After the dog incident, it was Kalila, who's 9, who found the snake hole.

KALILA: Also our gardener said that she saw two babies.

PERALTA: Baby cobras.

KALILA: And she said they were so cute.

PERALTA: (Laughter).

We threw some dirt on the hole, hoping the family of spitting cobras would get the hint. But about a week later, Estela, who is 5, woke up early to play with our dogs. And she got a warning.

ESTELA: I moved, like, near the snake hole. And I heard a sound that sounded, like...

KALILA: (Hissing).


KALILA: I'll do an imitation of what I think is Estela described it yesterday - like, (hissing).

ESTELA: (Hissing).

PERALTA: Lest you think we are terrible parents, we did have a talk with our girls. Never move toward the hiss, we told them - run. I also call a snake guy.


MARTIN WANJOHI: Hi. How are you?

PERALTA: How are you?

WANJOHI: Good, thank you.

PERALTA: Martin Wanjohi says he sees a lot of spitting cobras, especially in houses near creeks.

WANJOHI: In most cases, where there is a river, snakes issue is very common.

PERALTA: Yes, they can be deadly, he says. But they're also shy animals and don't really mess with humans. So we could let them be or we could spray some repellent. Against the advice of the under-10 set, we went with the repellent.

ESTELA: NPR (unintelligible)...

KALILA: Three, two, one, three, two, one.

KALILA: This...


KALILA: ...Is Kalila and Estela on NPR News.

PERALTA: And this is Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.