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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Indian cobra, Naja naja, is regarded by many as the archetypal cobra.

A cobra (About this sound pronunciation ) is a venomous snake, which is a member of the family elapidae. The name is short for cobra de capelo, which is Portuguese for "snake with hood", or "hood-snake".[1] When disturbed, most of these snakes can rear up and spread their neck (or hood) in a characteristic threat display. However, not all snakes referred to as cobras are of the same genus, or even of the same family.

Cobra may refer to:

  • Any member of the genus Naja, also known as typical cobras (with the characteristic ability to raise the front quarters of their bodies off the ground and flatten their necks in a threatening gesture), a group of venomous elapids found in Africa and Asia.
  • Any member of the genus Boulengerina, a.k.a. water cobras, a group of venomous elapids found in Africa.
  • Any member of the genus Aspidelaps, a.k.a. shield-nose cobras or coral snakes, a group of venomous elapids found in Africa.
  • Any member of the genus Pseudohaje, a.k.a. tree cobras, a group of venomous elapids found in Africa.
  • Paranaja multifasciata, a.k.a. the burrowing cobra, a venomous elapid species found in Africa.
  • Ophiophagus hannah, a.k.a. the king cobra, a venomous elapid species found in India and southern Asia.
  • Hemachatus haemachatus, a.k.a. the spitting cobra or ringhals, a venomous elapid species found in Africa.
  • Micrurus fulvius, a.k.a. the American cobra or eastern coral snake, a venomous elapid species found in the southeastern United States.
  • Hydrodynastes gigas, a.k.a. the false water cobra, a mildly venomous colubrid species found in South America.
  • A taxonomic synonym for the genus Bitis, a.k.a. puff adders, a group of venomous vipers found in Africa and in the south of the Arabian Peninsula.


  1. ^ Oxford. 1991. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Second Edition. Clarendon Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-861258-3.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

COBRA (Naja tripudians), a poisonous Colubrine snake, belonging to the family Elapidae, known also as the hooded snake, cobra di capello or naga. In this genus the anterior ribs are elongated, and by raising and bringing forward these, the neck can be expanded at will into a broad disk or hood. It possesses two rows of palatine teeth in the upper jaw, while the maxillary bones bear the fangs, of which the anterior one only is in connexion with the poison gland, the others in various stages of growth remaining loose in the surrounding flesh until the destruction of the poison fang brings the one immediately behind to the front, which then gets anchylosed to the maxillary bone, and into connexion with the gland secreting the poison, which in the cobra is about the size of an almond. Behind the poison fangs there are usually one or two ordinary teeth. The cobra attains a length of nearly 6 ft. and a girth of about 6 in. The typical cobra is yellowish to dark-brown, with a black and white spectacle-mark on the back of the hood, and with a pair of large black and white spots on the corresponding under-surface. There are, however, many varieties, in some of which the spectacle markings on the hood are wanting. The cobra may be regarded as nocturnal in its habits, being most active by night, although not unfrequently found in motion during the day. It usually conceals itself under logs of wood, in the roofs of huts and in holes in old walls and ruins, where it is often come upon inadvertently, inflicting a death wound before it has been observed. It feeds on small quadrupeds, frogs, lizards, insects and the eggs of birds, in search of which it sometimes ascends trees. When seeking its prey it glides slowly along the ground, holding the anterior third of its body aloft, with its hood distended, on the alert for anything that may come in its way. "This attitude," says Sir J. Fayrer, "is very striking, and few objects are more calculated to inspire awe than a large cobra when, with his hood erect, hissing loudly and his eyes glaring, he prepares to strike." It is said to drink large quantities of water, although like reptiles in general it will live for many months without food or drink. The cobra is oviparous; and its eggs, which are from 18 to 25 in number, are of a pure white colour, somewhat resembling in size and appearance the eggs of the pigeon, but sometimes larger. These it leaves to be hatched by the heat of the sun. It is widely distributed, from Transcaspia to China and to the Malay Islands, and is found in all parts of India, from Ceylon to the Himalayas up to about 8000 ft. above the level of the sea.

Closely allied is N. haje, the common hooded cobra of all Africa, the Spy-slange, i.e. spitting snake of the Boers.

The cobra is justly regarded as one of the most deadly of the Indian Thanatophidia. Many thousand deaths are caused annually by this unfortunately common species, but it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics. The bite of a vigorous cobra will often prove fatal in a few minutes, and as there is no practicable antidote to the poison, it is only in rare instances that such mechanical expedients as cauterizing, constriction or amputation can be applied with sufficient promptitude to prevent the virus from entering the circulation. Owing to a small reward offered by the Indian government for the head of each poisonous snake, great numbers of cobras have been destroyed; but only low-caste Hindus will engage in such work, the cobra being regarded by the natives generally with superstitious reverence, as a divinity powerful to injure, and therefore to be propitiated; and thus oftentimes when found in their dwellings this snake is allowed to remain, and is fed and protected. "Should fear," says Sir J. Fayrer, "and perhaps the death of some inmate bitten by accident, prove stronger than superstition, it may be caught, tenderly handled, and deported to some field, where it is released and allowed to depart in peace, not killed" (Thanatophidia of India). Great numbers, especially of young cobras, are killed by the adjutant birds and by the mungoos - a small mammal which attacks it with impunity, apparently not from want of susceptibility to the poison, but by its dexterity in eluding the bite of the cobra. Mere scratching or tearing does not appear to be sufficient to bring the poison from the glands; it is only when the fangs are firmly implanted by the jaws being pressed together that the virus enters the wound, and in those circumstances it has been shown by actual experiment that the mungoos, like all other warm-blooded animals, succumbs to the poison. In the case of reptiles, the cobra poison takes effect much more slowly, while it has been proved to have no effect whatever on other venomous serpents.

In the Egyptian hieroglyphics the cobra occurs constantly with the body erect and hood expanded; its name was ouro, which signifies "king," and the animal appears in Greek literature as ouraios and basiliscus. With the Egyptian snake-charmers of the present day the cobra is as great a favourite as with their Hindu colleagues. They pretend to change the snake into a rod, and it appears that the supple snake is made stiff and rigid by a strong pressure upon its neck, and that the animal does not seem to suffer from this operation, but soon recovers from the cataleptic fit into which it has been temporarily thrown.

The cobra is the snake usually exhibited by the Indian jugglers, who show great dexterity in handling it, even when not deprived of its fangs. Usually, however, the front fang at least is extracted, the creature being thus rendered harmless until the succeeding tooth takes its place, and in many cases all the fangs, with the germs behind, are removed - the cobra being thus rendered innocuous for life. The snake charmer usually plays a few simple notes on the flute, and the cobra, apparently delighted, rears half its length in the air and sways its head and body about, keeping time to the music.

The cobra, like almost all poisonous snakes, is by no means aggressive, and when it gets timely warning of the approach of man endeavours to get out of his way. It is only when trampled upon inadvertently, or otherwise irritated, that it attempts to use its fangs. It is a good swimmer, often crossing broad rivers, and probably even narrow arms of the sea, for it has been met with at sea at least a quarter of a mile from land.

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From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Diapsida
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordines: Caenophidia - Henophidia - Scolecophidia

Overview of superfamiliae

Acrochordoidea - Booidea - Colubroidea - Elapoidea - Homalopsoidea - Pareatoidea - Typhlopoidea - Viperoidea - Xenodermatoidea

Vernacular names

العربية: ثعبان
Basa Jawa: Ula
Català: Serp
Česky: Hadi
Cymraeg: Neidr
Dansk: Slange
Deutsch: Schlangen
Ελληνικά: Φίδι
English: Snakes
Español: Serpiente
Esperanto: Serpento
Français: Serpents
한국어: 뱀
Hawai`i: Naheka, Mo‘o
Հայերեն: Օձեր
Hrvatski: Zmije
Italiano: Serpente
עברית: נחשים
ქართული: გველები
Latina: Serpens
Latviešu: Čūskas
Lietuvių: Gyvatės
Limburgs: Slange
Magyar: Kígyók
Nāhuatl: Cōatl
Nederlands: Slangen
日本語: ヘビ亜目
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Slanger
‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Orm
Polski: Węże
Português: Cobra
Română: Şarpe
Русский: Змеи
Simple English: Snake
Slovenčina: Hady
Slovenščina: Kače
Suomi: Käärmeet
Svenska: Ormar
Tiếng Việt: Rắn
Türkçe: Yılan
中文: 蛇
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Simple English

, Naja haje]]

Cobras ( pronunciation (info • help)) are venomous snakes of the familys Elapidae, of several genera, but particularly Naja. (Non-cobra elapidae include the taipans, brown snakes, tiger snakes, fierce snakes, coral snakes, mambas and sea snakes.) Cobras generally inhabit tropical and desert regions of Asia and Africa. When feeling threatened, cobras can tilt back and flatten their heads into their known by sight warning posture. The rest of the time their heads are symmetrical and they look much like any other snakes.

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