Cobra is a wild and venomous snake and is one of the most easily distinguishable snakes in all the families of snakes. This is because of the hood that is a hallmark of Cobra snakes and gives them a distinctive and threatening look.
Cobra snakes belong to the family Elapidae and genus Naja. There is another snake named King Cobra. It also belongs to the Elapidae family but it has a different genus called Ophiophagus. King Cobra is the sole member of its genus. The total species of cobra snakes are more than 270.
Habitat of The Cobra Snakes
Cobras are typically the snakes of tropical hot areas. However, they are also found in the grassy land, fields, meadows, farming areas, and forests. Cobra snakes are mostly found in Southern Asia, Middle East, India, Indonesia, and Africa.
They love to stay under the rocks and inside the trees.
Physical Characteristics of the Cobra Snake
The Cobra snakes have a distinctive appearance and some physical characteristics that make it stand out differently amongst other snake families.
The Cobra snakes are very large and long. The smallest cobra is not less than 4 feet long and the longest cobra, the King cobra is found to be 18 feet long.
The colors and patterns of the Cobra snakes vary according to the species and their habitat. The most common colors found for cobra snakes are red, yellow, banded, black, olive, green, molted, and many others.
The eyes of the cobra are well-rounded with round pupils and usually golden iris.
The cobra snakes possess dark skin with smooth scales.
They have a fork-shaped black tongue that helps them in communicating with other snakes and also helps in prey relocalization from a distance of 100 meters.
The most prominent feature of a Cobra is its hood. This hood actually appears when the Cobra snakes feel danger or threat nearby and as a defensive action, they spread out their neck ribs. These neck ribs form a flattened and wide hood-like structure near their head.
The hood is oval-shaped and covered with smooth scales are there are two dark spots on the last two scales on each side of the hood.
Like all the venomous and deadly snakes, the Cobra snakes also have fangs. Fangs are the hollow structure that remains folded at the top jaw of the mouth. When the snake decides to inject its venom in the body of its prey, the fangs unfold and bring down the venom from venom glands situated at the back of the eyes.
Some cobras like spitting cobras do not bite. They throw the venom in the eyes of their prey or predator with their fangs.
The Cobra snakes are venomous. Their venom is neurotoxic and can be fatal if not treated. The venom of cobra attacks directly on the nervous system and shows its symptoms by creating problems in vision, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, vomiting, necrosis, abdominal pain, skeletal muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, respiratory failure, and anticoagulation.
The spitting cobras throw the venom through their fangs directly into the victim’s eyes, leading to blindness.
Species of the Cobra Snakes
The Cobra snakes have more than 270 species, mainly belonging to one family Elapidae. All the cobra snakes belong to one genus, Naja and only one species, King Cobra is the sole member of a separate genus Ophiophagus.
King Cobra is the largest species of the Cobra snake family. It is also known as hamadryad. The scientific name of King Cobra is Ophiophagus Hannah. The King cobras are mostly found in the forests of India, Phillippines, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia.
The size of the King Cobra ranges from 12 to 18 feet. King cobra has a low hiss sound is often called as a growl. It is as low as 600 Hz, similar to the human voice. King Cobra is the only snake that builds a nest and females lay eggs there. It lives for about 20 years.
The Indian Cobra is another famous species of Cobra snakes. Its scientific name is Naja Naja. It is commonly found in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Asia. It lives in forests and cultivated land areas.
The Indian Cobras are not very long and their size ranges from 5 to 6.5 feet long. They can have a dark as well as creamy light color with a dark wide band on the underside of the neck. They can live up to 23 years.
The Forest Cobra is a venomous snake native to drier climates like Africa with a scientific name of Naja melanoleuca.
The Forest Cobra is also known as black cobra and black and white-lipped cobra due to its color and patterns. It is a large snake with a length of 10 feet and is found to be less dangerous to humans than other cobra snakes. The Forest cobras have a long life span of about 28 years.
Spitting cobras are also known as Ringhals. They have a scientific name as Hemachatus haemachatus. These are the species of Cobra snakes that can project the venom into the eyes of their victim through fangs. they can throw the venom from a distance of 2 meters with an accuracy of the target.
They can leave their victim with temporary or permanent blindness. They also have a life span of 20 years like the King Cobra.
Behavior and Habits of the Cobra Snakes
The Cobras are famous for their distinctive defensive behavior represented by their hood, their hissing sound, and raising the 1/3rd part of their body. The hissing sound of Cobra snakes is very loud except that of the King Cobra.
Cobra is not an aggressive snake normally, but it becomes alert and nervous and can turn aggressive if it gets disturbed. The Cobra snakes can attack from a distance of 2 meters and they can stab multiple times in a single attack.
Some of the cobra snakes are arboreal and some like to live underground or under the trees. They like to live in dry areas.
Cobras are not very selective eaters. They are opportunist hunters and are ready to bite and swallow any kind of prey that comes in their way.
Mongoose is the biggest threat to the Cobras. They are speedy and agile and often defeat cobras by bitting the back of cobras before their defense.
Feeding of the Cobra Snakes
The Cobra snakes are not very large and tend to eat small animals and vertebrates like toads, birds, small mammals, eggs, lizards, and other small snakes. Most of the Cobras hunt at dawn or dusk and prefer resting at the day time of heat.
The Cobras have a very slow metabolism and take weeks or sometimes months to digest their food.
The Cobra snakes are viviparous species. Like all the other snake families, Cobras mate in the spring season and lay eggs in summer. The eggs hatch usually at the end of summer. The female lays 20 to 50 eggs and incubates them carefully until the young ones hatch out of it after 60 to 80 days. Females stay mostly with the eggs and rarely leave for food. The Cobras remain near the eggs and protect from their biggest enemy, mongoose.
The Cobra snakes are one of the most threatening, powerful, and deadly snake species. They are common in Asian countries and must be left abandoned in the wild for their fatal venom.