By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.
Cobra snakes are the largest and most venomous snakes in the world, as well as the deadliest when counting human fatalities. Just like the coral snake.they belong to the Elapidae family.
Most venomous snakes in Australia and Asia are Elapids, and in some subtropical areas, particularly in the rural tropics, fatalities by Elapids are a significant medical problem (White, 2000)1.
Indian folklore portrays cobra snakes as a symbol of protection and fertility, and under Indian wildlife regulations, it is illegal to exterminate it.
Snake charmers display cobras at markets because of their position in South-Asian culture and people’s fascination withcobra snakes.
The diet of a cobra consists of a mixture of rodents and birds, yet they also consume other reptiles, although not as a preference.
Bite From a Cobra Snake
Not all cobra bites are venomous; some bites are dry (venom is not injected) and may cause bacterial infections from germs in the cobra’s mouth. Approximately 75 percent of people bit by a cobra will eventually die from the medical complications arising from the bite. A real (not dry) bite from a cobra snake will, in many cases, cause death within ten minutes due to respiratory failure.
There are not many creatures in the world that kill someone from their own species, but snakes like the cobra do. This video will show you how a king cobra takes down a rat snake with its very dangerous and lethal venom in just a few minutes.
Since its neurotoxic venom acts by inhibiting the transfer of transmitter substances across the synaptic cleft, mechanical ventilation of a hurt victim may increase the sufferer’s chance of survival.
If antivenin is necessary, it is important that the species responsible is correctly identified because the patient must have the correct antivenin and have proper supervision (Britt & Burkhart, 1997)2.
Some cobras lay their eggs in nests they assemble themselves. The number of laid eggs varies with environmental factors, such as the weather conditions, temperature, and the quantity and availability of food.
Approximately nine weeks after mating, a clutch of 20 to 40 eggs is laid and ready for a period of maturation. Young cobras hatch after two months, and the female instinctively leaves the eggs before they hatch. This is convenient because otherwise she would probably eat the eggs, although it sounds like an illogical behavior from an evolutionary standpoint.
Juvenile cobra snakes are instantly venomous, and depending on the species, their size varies.
The king cobra has a reputation of having a special preference for other reptiles, but the majority of its diet is birds and rodents. King cobras are found in Asia (India, Malaysia, Philippines, and South China) where their habitats are in tropical forests, grasslands, and anywhere close to water resources where they utilize their excellent swimming skills. It is 10-12 feet long and shows aggression if provoked, even though it is generally considered timid.
Cobra vs. Mongoose
You may have heard about cobra and mongoose encounters. In this video, you will see a great fight between a cobra and mongoose, and many will not believe that in the end it was not much of a contest and that the mongoose proved too strong for a cobra.
Several species of cobra can spit. Spitting is used as a defense against predators. Generally a human cannot die from cobra saliva. The venom in the snake’s saliva can, however, cause permanent blindness and scars if untreated.
1White J “Bites and stings from venomous animals: A global overview” THERAPEUTIC DRUG MONITORING Vol. 22 pp 65-68 (2000)
2Brit A & Burkhart “Naja naja cobra bite” AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE Vol. 15 (5) page 529-531 (1997)
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