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The many Species

The many Species
Where Cobras Live
Diet and Other Characteristics
Sources and Additional Information
Cobra Pictures
Sex and Reproduction

A Few Examples...

The Indian (Monocled) Cobra - Naja naja kaouthia

Distinctive Features: Medium-sized; smooth, shiny scales; wide head and neck; distinctive hood marking different from that of the spectacled cobra.

Description: The skin of the Monocled Cobra is shinier, the hood rounder and smaller and the head smaller than is that of the spectacled cobra. The colour varies widely, from yellowish to greenish brown to black, with ragged bands. There is a conspicuous white monocle on the hood. The underside is yellowish white Monocled Cobras superficially resemble Spectacled Cobras, but there are many small differences.

Distribution: Monocled Cobras are a sub-species most commonly found in northwest India, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and the Andamans, all of Bengal and Assam.

King Cobra - Ophiophagus Hannah

Distinctive Features:
Large; smooth, shiny scales; distinct light cross bands mainly on the forebody; large head scales edges with black.

Description: The large head of the giant King Cobra is little wider than the neck. The head scales are edged with black and the overall colour varies from yellowish to deep olive-green but the tail if often jet-black. The underside is a lighter shade of the body colour. The yellow bands on the snake's back are more obvious in the light coloured specimens from Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. King Cobras are the largest venomous snakes in the world, growing to about 18 feet.

Distribution: Rare in India, King Cobras are confined mostly to the dense forests of the Western Ghats and the northern hill forests. Nilgiris, Plains and Western Ghats upto Goa, the Himalayan foot hills (upto 2000 m) starting near Lahore in Pakistan through North Indian to Assam. Forests of Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and the Andamans.

Indian (Spectacled) Cobra - Naja naja naja
Distinctive Features: Medium-sized to large; smooth, shiny scales; wide head and neck; wide black band on underside of neck; distinctive hood marking on top of neck.

Description: The Spectacled Cobra is a smooth-scaled snake with black eyes, wide neck and head and medium body. Colouring varies form black or dark brown to yellowish white. The underside is usually white or yellowish with a wide dark neck band. The body is generally covered with a speckled white or yellow pattern, sometimes forming ragged bands. The famous hood marking of the classic design, shows a connected pair of rings. Occasionally, it may not even resemble spectacles, or may be altogether absent. The cobras of northwest India are blackish and have a barely distinguishable hood marking. Cobras are often confused with the Indian rat snakes, which have a much thinner neck and head, and become 3 metres long, a metre more than do the biggest Indian cobras.

The Spectacled Cobra is the most widely distributed of the generally accepted 3 sub -species of cobras in Indian and is one of the big four dangerous snakes, 6 species of cobras occur in Asia and 9 in Africa. The jet black cobras occur in Asia and 9 in Africa. The jet black cobra of northwest India and Pakistan is another sub-species or geographic race. Except for its colour and absence of hood marking, it is very similar to the spectacled Cobra.

Distribution: Throughout India, sea level upto 4000 m (in the Himalayas

Classification of a King Cobra

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Elapidae

Genus and Species: Ophiophagus hannah 


Copyright Andy Budd 2005