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Cobra

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Cobra
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Scientific Classification
Species

Cobras are the species belonging to the taxonomic genus Naja. They are perhaps best known for being the largest kind of venomous snake in the world. Some cobras can reach nine feet in length. Cobras are also well known for the hoods formed by flaps of skin on their necks and ribs. One of the most familiar kinds of cobra, the king cobra, is actually not a cobra at all. It is a member of the genus Ophiophagus. The true cobras belong in the genus Naja. Most cobras live in Africa, Southern Asia, or the Philippines.

Body Design

An Indian Spectacled Cobra's hood

Cobras, like all vertebrates, are supported by a skeleton with a vertebral column. They are typically long and slender snakes. Cobras are well known for their hoods.[2] A cobra's hood consists of flaps of skin that are connected to the snake's ribs.[3]These snakes have heads that they can raise and flatten when agitated.[2]

Most cobras usually reach about six feet in length.[2] However, the forest cobra can be as large as nine feet and the Mozambique spitting cobra is typically less than three feet long.[4]Cobras have round pupils and smooth scales. These scales are typically dark colors, such as black or brown, but they can also be other colors such as yellow, red, or patterned.[5][2] A cobra's teeth are found in its front jaws. Although they appear similar to the canine teeth of humans, they contain venom.[2]

Life Cycle

A juvenile Chinese Cobra

Before mating, female cobras give off scents called pheromones to attract males. The males will often perform dancing rituals before they mate.[6]Cobras reproduce by laying eggs. A female cobra typically lays about twenty to forty eggs, which she puts in a nest. The eggs normally hatch after about two months.[2] When the eggs are in the nest, the female will lay on top of them to incubate them and to keep them warm.

Part of the egg yolks become lodged in the hatchlings' stomach to provide nourishment for them after they hatch. Cobra hatchlings are usually between sixteen and eighteen inches long. They are capable of taking care of themselves from the time of their birth. A cobra will usually be considered an adult when it is four to six years old. The snakes typically have a lifespan of about twenty years, although they can live to be thirty years.[6]

Ecology

Range map of the forest cobra

Cobras can be found mainly in Africa, Southern Asia, and the Philippines. They typically prefer climates with warm or hot temperatures and tropical weather. [3] The snakes can live in a variety of different habitats. These include deserts, grasslands, and forests.[5] Unfortunately, the natural habitats of some cobras are being destroyed by humans because of deforestation.[3]

The cobra's diet consist mainly of rodents and birds. However, they are also known to eat lizards, frogs, and fish. Some species even eat other snakes[3] [2] The cobra's main natural predator is the mongoose. Mongooses have thick coats and a tolerance for the snakes' venom. Other predators of the cobra include honey badgers and some birds of prey.[7]

Venom

Cobras are extremely venomous snakes. In most cobras, the venom is contained in the snakes' upper frontal jaws.[2] A cobra's venom is neurotoxic. This means that, after injected, it affects the body's nervous system. A cobra usually injects between 150 to 350 milligrams of venom into its victim. For humans, the lethal dose of venom is 18 to 45 milligrams. [8]

Most cobras inject venom into their victims by biting them with their fangs.[2] However, spitting cobras are able to spit venom into the eyes of an attacker. This results in a state of pain and blindness. A spitting cobra can usually spit venom to a distance of about eight feet.[8] Although cobra venom can be deadly, it may have medicinal qualities. An ointment using cobra venom is being made to aid in treating arthritis.[9]

Video

Gallery

References

  1. Naja Wikispecies free species directory. Web. Last updated May 12, 2013. Author unknown.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Pandit, Madhura. Cobra Snake Buzzle.com. Web. Published on October 25, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Singh, Aakish. Cobra Snake Facts Buzzle.com. Web. Last updated on September 30, 2011.
  4. Baxamusa, Batul Nafisa. Types of Cobras Buzzle.com. Web. Published on February 23, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Smith, Grant. The Ultimate Cobra Snake Facts Guide Cape Snake Conservation. Web. Published on April 8, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Campbell, Meg. What is the Life Cycle of the Cobra eHow.com. Web. Accessed on March 23, 2014.
  7. Durrance, Ricky. What Tries to Eat Cobras? eHow.com. Web. Accessed on April 5, 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Cobra Venom cobras.org. Web. Accessed on April 5, 2014. Author unknown.
  9. Viegas, Jennifer. Cobra Venom Erases Arthritis Symptoms news.discovery.com. Web. Published on January 20, 2010.