If disturbed, they will hiss loudly and continuously, adopting a tightly coiled defensive posture with the fore part of their body held in a taut "S" shape. At the same time, they may attempt to back away from the threat towards cover. They may strike suddenly and fast, to the side as easily as forwards, before returning quickly to the defensive position, ready to strike again. During a strike, the force of the impact is so strong, and the long fangs penetrate so deeply, that prey items are often killed by the physical trauma alone. The fangs apparently can penetrate soft leather.
They can strike to a distance of about one third of their body length, but juveniles will launch their entire bodies forwards in the process. These snakes rarely grip their victims, instead releasing quickly to return to the striking position.
Their prey includes mammals, birds, amphibians, and lizards.