Animal of the Week Egyptian Cobra

The Venomous Egyptian Cobra

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Coming up this time on our Animal of the Week schedule is the Egyptian Cobra. Everyone knows cobras because of their awesome defense posture! You know, when they stand up tall and flatten out their necks into a hood shape and hiss while lunging at their attackers. Egyptian Cobras are one of the largest species of cobra and they are experts at this display posture. This snake is also known as the ASP and can reach up to an impressive 9ft in overall length. These active foraging snakes are great hunters and love eating small reptiles and amphibians, although they will eat other things like birds, mammals, and eggs. The Egyptian Cobra was recently divided into two separate species. The Snouted Cobra and the Egyptian Banded Cobra, due to a geographical split in the species distribution.

Where are Egyptian Cobras from?

Egyptian Cobras are a very cool species found on the African continent. Although this animal’s name implies they are found strictly in Egypt, they are far more widespread than that and found throughout northern Africa. This snake is the second largest cobra found in Africa. Egyptian Cobras can live in a very diverse range of habitats. They are generally found in savannas and semi arid deserts with locatable water sources because they prefer to be near water.

Are they venomous?

Yes, Egyptian Cobras are venomous snakes from the Elapidae family. This family contains other venomous snakes including sea snakes, coral snakes, and the world’s most venomous – taipans. Most people associate venomous snakes with the large frontal fanged snakes of the Viperdae family. However, cobras and other elapidae have smaller fangs which are less than an inch in size. This means that cobras have a slightly different system for delivering venom and need to grab on or attach to their prey to inject venom.

What famous person from Egyptian history died from an Asp bite?

O…M…G… You heard it right. It is popular belief that Cleopatra used an Egyptian Cobra to commit suicide before her kingdom was invaded by Octavian, the first ruler of the Roman Empire. It is said that she would rather die than fall to the Romans, so her servants agitated the snake and all three were bitten and died. However, there is evidence that suggests she may have may drank or injected the venom with a needle. Some historians have even suggested that she may have applied the venom with an ointment. Either way, Cleopatra used the venom of an Egyptian cobra to commit suicide, which has gained the Egyptian Cobra some serious fame.

Can you remove a cobra’s fangs?

People often ask us about venomous snakes having their fangs removed and it always makes us sad. First, you should never alter an animal to make it easier to handle, or less dangerous than it naturally is. When we do things like declaw animals or remove fangs those animals become altered in negative and inhumane ways. Secondly, taking a snake like a cobra and removing its fangs is a superstition. Pretty much all snakes are capable of producing new teeth when their old ones break off, so there is technically no way to permanently remove a snake’s fangs without severe altering surgery. Most of the snakes that have had their fangs, so called “removed” have had them ripped from their mouths inhumanely. These usually cause nasty wounds that won’t stop bleeding and become infected.

There are rare cases with snakes that we refer to as venomoids. Venomoids are snakes that have undergone surgery to have their venom glands removed from their head. Venomous snakes have glands in the back of their heads that hold the stored venom until injected through the fangs. There are snakes that have gone through surgery to have these glands removed and there are some that have survived and had long healthy lives after. From what we understand though, the surgeries are very hard for the snakes and require a decent amount of time for healing. Most of them do not make it. We do not have any venomoid snakes here at Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders and we definitely do not have any snakes with their fangs removed.

Study Your Snakes!

Be sure to head to the snake section of the Kids’ Zone to learn even more about these awesome animals. You can also tune in to our 9th podcast episode, all about facing your snake fears! If podcasts are not your thing then you can head over to our Youtube channel to watch some awesome videos on snakes. Adios Defenders!

 

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Egyptian Cobra Fact Sheet