Having some friends that are great fan of reptilians and snakes I decided to dedicate some posts to these animals. They might be less cudly than the average animal they are among the most beautiful creatures God put on this world (yes the irony is not lost on me here)
For Americans the rattler is probably the most well known snake, for most of the other people this will be “the Cobra” and many people will wrongly asume that “the cobra” is “a snake”. This of course is, just as with many other species, not the case. The cobra is a family of snakes with several sub species, a few of them I will highlight.
Naja is a genus of venomous elapid snakes known as cobras. Several other genera include species commonly called cobras (for example the rinkhals, or ring-necked spitting cobra [Hemachatus haemachatus]), but of all the snakes known by that name, members of the genus Naja are the most widespread and the most widely recognized as cobras. Various species occur in regions throughout Africa, Southwest Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Until recently the genus Naja had 20 to 22 species, but it has undergone several taxonomic revisions in recent years, so sources vary greatly. There is however wide support for a 2009 revision that synonymised the genera Boulengerina and Paranaja with Naja. According to that revision the genus Naja now includes 28 species.
I guess we all heard about the “spitting Cobra”. Again we tend to think of it as one species but did you know the spitting cobra cosists of no less than 11 subspecies?
- Ashe’s spitting cobra (giant spitting cobra)
- Mali cobra (Katian spitting cobra)
- Mandalay spitting cobra (Burmese spitting cobra)
- Mozambique spitting cobra
- Zebra spitting cobra
- Black-necked spitting cobra
- Nubian spitting cobra
- Red spitting cobra
- Indochinese spitting cobra
- Javan spitting cobra
- Equatorial spitting cobra
Naja nigricincta and Naja nigricollis
Naja nigricincta is a species of spitting cobra in the genus Naja; it is native to parts of southern Africa. This species had long been considered to be a subspecies of the black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis), but morphological and genetic differences have led to its recognition as a separate species.
Two subspecies are currently recognized under Naja nigricincta. The nominate subspecies N. n. nigricincta, commonly known as the zebra spitting cobra or western barred spitting cobra, is given its name because of the dark crossbars that run the length of the snake’s body. The subspecies N. n. woodi, commonly known as the black spitting cobra, is solid black and is found only in the desert areas of southern Africa. Both subspecies are smaller than N. nigricollis; with average adult lengths of less than 1.5 metres (4.9 ft)
Naja naja (Indian or Spectacled Cobra)
The Indian cobra (Naja naja) also known as the Spectacled cobra, Asian cobra or Binocellate cobra is a species of the genus Naja found in the Indian subcontinent and a member of the “big four”, the four species which inflict the most snakebites on humans in India. This snake 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).
The Indian cobra is a moderately sized, heavy bodied species. This cobra species can easily be identified by its relatively large and quite impressive hood, which it expands when threatened. This species has a head, which is elliptical, depressed, and very slightly distinct from neck. The snout is short and rounded with large nostrils. The eyes are medium in size and the pupils are round. The majority of adult specimens range from 1 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 4.9 ft) in length. Some specimens, particularly those from Sri Lanka, may grow to lengths of 2.1 to 2.2 metres (6.9 to 7.2 ft), but this is relatively uncommon.
Naja Kaouthia or monocled cobra
The monocled cobra has an O-shaped, or monocellate hood pattern, unlike that of the Indian cobra. Coloration in the young is more constant. The dorsal surface may be yellow, brown, gray, or blackish, with or without ragged or clearly defined cross bands. It can be olivaceous or brownish to black above with or without a yellow or orange-colored, O-shaped mark on the hood. It has a black spot on the lower surface of the hood on either side, and one or two black cross-bars on the belly behind it. The rest of the belly is usually of the same color as the back, but paler. As age advances, it becomes paler, when the adult is brownish or olivaceous. The elongated nuchal ribs enable a cobra to expand the anterior of the neck into a “hood”. A pair of fixed anterior fangs is present. The largest fang recorded measured 6.78 mm (0.678 cm). Fangs are moderately adapted for spitting. Adult monocled cobras reach a length of 1.35 to 1.5 m (4.4 to 4.9 ft) with a tail length of 23 cm (9.1 in). Many larger specimens have been recorded, but they are rare. Adults can reach a maximum of 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in length.
So that is a little about cobras. There are more subspecies but that is for another time