Last updated

Temporal range: Miocene-Holocene
Indian cobra (Naja naja) in a defensive posture
Scientific classification
Elapidae (with some exceptions)

Laurenti, 1768

Cobra is the common name of various elapid snakes, most of which belong to the genus Naja . [1]



All of the known cobras are venomous and many are capable of rearing upwards and producing a hood when threatened. [2]

Snakes known as cobras

All members of the genus Naja, the "true" cobras, rear and produce hoods.

Other "cobra" genera and species are as follows:

The false water cobra, Hydrodynastes gigas , is the only "cobra" that is not a member of the Elapidae. It does not rear, produces only a slight flattening of the neck, and is only mildly venomous. [5] :p.53

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King cobra Venomous snake species in the family Elapidae, endemic to forests from India through Southeast Asia

The king cobra, also known as the hamadryad, is a venomous snake species in the family Elapidae, endemic to forests from India through Southeast Asia. It is threatened by habitat destruction and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2010. It is the world's longest venomous snake. Adult king cobras are 3.18 to 4 m long. The longest known individual measured 5.85 m (19.2 ft). It is the sole member of the genus Ophiophagus. It preys chiefly on other snakes and occasionally on some other vertebrates, such as lizards and rodents. It is a highly venomous and dangerous snake when agitated or provoked that has a fearsome reputation in its range, although it is typically shy and avoids confrontation with humans when possible. The king cobra is a prominent symbol in the mythology and folk traditions of India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. It is the national reptile of India.

Elapidae family of reptiles

Elapidae is a family of venomous snakes endemic to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, with terrestrial forms in Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas alongside marine forms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Members of this family have a wide range of sizes, from the smallest 18 cm (7.1 in) white-lipped snake to the longest 5.85 m (19.2 ft) king cobra, all of which, however, have fixed hollow fangs for venom injection to subdue prey and defend themselves against any threats. Most species have neurotoxins in their venom, while some may contain other toxic components with various proportions. This family includes 56 genera with some 360 species and some 170 subspecies.

Mamba genus of reptiles

Mambas are fast moving venomous snakes of the genus Dendroaspis in the family Elapidae. Four extant species are recognised currently; three of those four species are essentially arboreal and green in colour, whereas the so-called black mamba, Dendroaspis polylepis, is largely terrestrial and generally brown or grey in colour. All are native to various regions in sub-Saharan Africa and all are feared throughout their ranges, especially the black mamba. In Africa there are many legends and stories about mambas.

<i>Aspidelaps</i> genus of reptiles

Aspidelaps is a genus of venomous elapid snakes endemic to Africa. Species in the genus Aspidelaps are commonly called shield-nosed cobras or coral cobras after their cobra hoods and enlarged rostral (nose) scales. However, the hood is not nearly as well developed in Aspidelaps as it is in Naja.

Indian cobra species of reptile

The Indian cobra, also known as the spectacled cobra, Asian cobra, or binocellate cobra, is a species of the genus Naja found, in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan, and a member of the "big four" species that inflict the most snakebites on humans in India. It is distinct from the king cobra which belongs to the monotypic genus Ophiophagus. The Indian cobra is revered in Indian mythology and culture, and is often seen with snake charmers. It is now protected in India under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972). A consortium of scientists, including some from India, have mapped the genome of the Indian Cobra, among the most venomous snakes in the country. Knowing the sequence of genes could aid in understanding the chemical constituents of the venom and contribute to development of new anti-venom therapies, which have remained practically unchanged for over a century.

Caspian cobra species of reptile

The Caspian cobra, also called the Central Asian cobra, ladle snake, Oxus cobra, or Russian cobra is a species of venomous snake in the family Elapidae. The species is endemic to Central Asia.

Philippine cobra species of reptile

The Philippine cobra also called northern Philippine cobra, is a stocky, highly venomous species of spitting cobra native to the northern regions of the Philippines. The Philippine cobra is called ulupong in Tagalog, carasaen in Ilocano and agawason in Cebuano-Bisaya.

<i>Naja</i> genus of reptiles

Naja is a genus of venomous elapid snakes known as cobras. Several other genera include species commonly called cobras, but members of the genus Naja are the most widespread and the most widely recognized as "true" cobras. Various species occur in regions throughout Africa, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

<i>Walterinnesia aegyptia</i> species of reptile

Walterinnesia is a genus of venomous snakes in the family Elapidae. The genus contains two species, known commonly as desert black snakes or black desert cobras, which are endemic to the Middle East. Walterinnesia aegyptia was long considered to be the only species within the genus. However, it was recently found that the eastern populations actually represent a different species, Walterinnesia morgani. W. aegyptia is entirely black in color, and has highly shiny scales. W. morgani differs in having a juvenile pattern of reddish crossbars on the back, and lower average ventral and subcaudal scale counts.

Mozambique spitting cobra species of reptile

The Mozambique spitting cobra is a highly venomous species of spitting cobra native to Africa.

Chinese cobra species of reptile

The Chinese cobra, also called Taiwan cobra, is a species of cobra in the family Elapidae, found mostly in southern China and a couple of neighboring nations and islands. It is one of the most prevalent venomous snakes in China and Taiwan, which has caused many snakebite incidents to humans.

Many-banded krait species of reptile

The many-banded krait, also known as the Taiwanese krait or the Chinese krait, is a extremely venomous species of elapid snake found in much of central and southern China and Southeast Asia. The species was first described by the scientist Edward Blyth in 1861. This species has two known subspecies, the nominate Bungarus multicinctus multicinctus, and Bungarus multicinctus wanghaotingi. The many-banded krait mostly inhabits marshy areas throughout its geographical distribution, though it does occur in other habitat types.

Rinkhals species of reptile

The rinkhals, also called the ringhals or ring-necked spitting cobra, is a species of venomous elapid found in parts of southern Africa. It is not a true cobra in that it does not belong to the genus Naja, but instead belongs to the monotypic genus Hemachatus. While rinkhals bear a great resemblance to true cobras they also possess some remarkable differences from these, resulting in their placement outside the genus Naja.

Egyptian cobra species of reptile

The Egyptian cobra is a species of venomous snake in the family Elapidae. Naja haje is one of the largest cobra species native to Africa, second to the forest cobra.

Pseudohaje is a genus of venomous African elapid snakes, commonly called tree cobras or forest cobras because of their arboreal lifestyle. Their ability to produce a hood is limited to a slight flattening of the neck.

Black-necked spitting cobra species of reptile

The black-necked spitting cobra is a species of spitting cobra found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. They are moderately sized snakes that can grow to a length of 1.2 to 2.2 m in length. Their coloration and markings can vary considerably. They prey primarily on small rodents. They possess medically significant venom, although the mortality rate for untreated bites on humans is relatively low. Like other spitting cobras, they can eject venom from their fangs when threatened. The neurotoxic venom irritates the skin, causing blisters and inflammation, and can cause permanent blindness if the venom makes contact with the eyes and is not washed off.

Forest cobra species of reptile

The forest cobra, also commonly called the black cobra and the black and white-lipped cobra, is a species of venomous snake in the family Elapidae. The species is native to Africa, mostly the central and western parts of the continent. It is the largest true cobra species with a total length of up to 3.1 meters. Although it prefers lowland forest and moist savanna habitats, this cobra is highly adaptable and can be found in drier climates within its geographical range. It is a very capable swimmer and is often considered to be semi-aquatic. The forest cobra is a generalist in its feeding habits, having a highly varied diet: anything from large insects to small mammals and other reptiles. This species is alert, nervous and is considered to be a very dangerous snake. When cornered or molested, it will assume the typical cobra warning posture by raising its fore body off the ground, spreading a narrow hood, and hissing loudly. Bites to humans are less common than from other African cobras due to various factors, though a bite from this species is a life-threatening emergency.

<i>Naja nigricincta</i> species of reptile

Naja nigricincta is a species of spitting cobra in the genus Naja belonging to the family Elapidae.

<i>Naja christyi</i> species of reptile

Naja christyi, commonly known as the Congo water cobra or Christy's water cobra, is a species of venomous snakes belonging to the family Elapidae. The species is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. This species was formerly in the genus Boulengerina, but more recent research by Wallach et al. has shown that Boulengerina is actually a subgenus and Boulengerina christyi is a synonym of Naja christyi. This species has no known subspecies.


  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cobra"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 613.
  2. Two kinds of non-venomous snake, the hognose snakes and the striped keelback, also rear and produce hoods, but are not considered "cobras"; likewise, some venomous elapid snakes, such as the black mamba, are also capable of producing hoods but are not called "cobras".
  3. Wolfgang Bücherl; Eleanor E. Buckley; Venancio Deulofeu (17 September 2013). Venomous Animals and Their Venoms: Venomous Vertebrates. Elsevier. p. 492. ISBN   978-1-4832-6363-2.
  4. United States. Department of the Navy. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (2013). Venomous Snakes of the World: A Manual for Use by U. S. Amphibious Forces. Skyhorse. p. 217. ISBN   978-1-62087-623-7.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Mark O'Shea (20 February 2008). Venomous Snakes of the World. New Holland. p. 74. ISBN   978-1-84773-086-2.