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Quick Facts

Genus: Naja/There are 12 species of cobra

Location: Africa and South Asia

The Scoop

The Scoop

Deadly and Fast

Cobras are venomous snakes that inhabit the deserts, grasslands, rain forests and mountains of Africa and South Asia. They can swim, climb trees and move swiftly along the ground. Cobras kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs. The venom is a neurotoxin that stops the victim’s breathing and heartbeat. A cobra will only attack a human if it feels threatened. Cobras are able to raise their bodies up, spread their hoods, and hiss loudly to scare off most threats. They have specialized muscles and ribs in the neck that can flare out to form the hood when the cobra feels threatened. Cobras come in varying colors from black or dark brown to yellowish white.

Most cobras are about 6 feet long- that is about an average Dad’s height. King cobras are the largest poisonous snakes in the world. A king cobra can grow to a length of 18 feet- three times your dad’s height- and its head can be as big as an adult person’s hand. Cobras go hunting mainly at dawn and dusk. They use their forked tongue to smell prey. The tongue moves in and out, picking up odor particles from the ground and passing them over a special smelling organ in the roof of the mouth called the Jacobson’s organ. Mice, rats, ground squirrels, and rabbits are the main prey items, but cobras may also eat amphibians, birds, lizards, other snakes, and eggs. A cobra can go for days or even months without eating, depending on how large its last meal was. The snakes slow metabolism makes this possible.

The cobra’s biggest enemy is the mongoose, an animal that is quick enough to dart in and bite the back of the cobra’s neck before the snake can defend itself. Many species of cobra were once revered or worshiped in parts of the Eastern hemisphere. Now, wild cobras are threatened by deforestation and hunting.