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Common Cobra (Naja naja) - COBRAS - Scientific Data / Taxonomy


Common Cobra
Common Name(s): Common Cobra, Asian Cobra, Cobra-de-Capello, Indian Cobra and Spectacled Cobra
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Scientific Name: Naja Naja

Snake Family : Elapidae

Description: Highly poisonous and larger of the Elapidae family of snakes. Cobras come in a broad range of body coloring ranging from yellows, rust, light browns and greys to even reddish tones and some are banded. Cobras have beautiful "hoods" which when fully spread in a defensive posture displays spots that look like eyes. Highly intelligent species mostly terrestrial. Some snake species like the Rinkhal of Southern Africa (not true cobras) are very coy, known to play dead to entice victims to approach then suddenly attacking. The King Cobra, the largest venomous snake in the world is greatly feared but many scientists believe it is the African Cape Cobra who delivers the most deadly venom of any of the Naja family of snakes.

Characteristics: Cobras are both nocturnal and diurnal creatures. Snakes in the Cobra family will rise to defend themselves and are capable of delivering large amounts of deadly Neurotoxic venom through either a venomous spray aimed at the eyes ( Spitting Cobras ) or envenomation by fang bite. Cobra envenomation is severe, often fatal and should be treated by medical professionals who normally administer Cobra Antivenom inoculations.

Reproduction : Oviparous (egg-laying) with many Cobra species building and maintaining nests for their clutches of between 12-20 baby cobra eggs which hatch out in 50-60 days. Female Cobras are known to viciously defend their nest and eggs from predators.

Length: 1.2-5 meters (Approx. 4.5-16 ft). The largest and longest King Cobra specimen is said to be recorded measuring 18"4" in length.

Habitat Distribution: Mountainous outcrops, grasslands, moist and desert savannas and forested areas throughout their range. Over 270 species inhabit the continents of Africa and Asia. Wide ranging, the African species live from Egypt in the north through equatorial Africa in the Congo Basin to Namibia and extending all the way to South Africa. Asian Cobras can be found in the countries of Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, the islands of Java, Malaysia, Sumatra and the Philippines.

Subspecies: There are several recognized subspecies in the "Naja" family of Cobras. Some of the more widely known are:

African Cobras

Black Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis woodi)

Black-Necked Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis nigricollis)

Cape Cobra or Yellow Cobra (Naja nivea)

Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje haje)

Forest Cobra (Naja melanoleuca melanoleuca and Naja m. subfulva)

Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica)

Red Spitting Cobra (Naja pallida)

Snouted Cobra (Naja annulifera annulifera)

Western Barred Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis nigricincta)

Asian Cobras

Burmese Spitting Cobra (Naja manadalayensis)

Central Asian Cobra (Naja oxiana)

Chinese Cobra (Naja atra)

Common Cobra, Asian Cobra, Indian Cobra, Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja)

King Cobra ( Ophiophagus hannah)

Malaysian Spitting Cobra (Naja naja sputatrix)

Nubian Spitting Cobra (Naja nubiae)

Sumatran Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana)

Other Cobra subspecies include:

Tree Cobras (Pseudohaje species)

Water Cobras (Boulengerina species)

Note: Rinkhals ( Hemachatus haemachatus)

Rinkhals (aka Ringhals) are in a class of their own & it warrants mention that this Cobra looking snake is not actually a true Cobra. Although it is poisonous with the associated "hood" there are many differences. Rinkhals, also in the Elapidae family of snakes, are ovoviviparous (bearing live young) with different fang and venom delivery system than that of a true Cobra.

Related Snake Families : Kraits and Sea Snakes ( Laticaudinae & Hydrophidae )

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See also:
How to Avoid Snake Bites
| Poisonous Snake Bites Effects | Snake Venom | Snake Fangs
Other Snakes:
Diamondback Rattlesnake
| King Cobra | Spitting Cobra | Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes

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