What is a Monocled Cobra?

Jacob Queen

The monocled cobra, which is also known by the name Naja kaouthia, is a poisonous snake from India. These cobras are generally quite well-known in their native land, and they're the main species that was used by traditional snake charmers. This cobra is about 7-feet-long (2.1 meters), and there's a fair amount of color variation in the species, from a light yellowish color to a tan shade. On their backs, they have markings that look like single-eyed "monocle" glass lenses, and this is how they got their name.

The monocled cobra is often used by snake charmers.
The monocled cobra is often used by snake charmers.

For a large variety of reasons, the monocled cobra tends to have a lot of run-ins with people, and it's not uncommon for someone to get bitten. They often live in areas where people exist in large numbers, and the snakes have a temperament that isn’t necessarily all that easy-going. When the cobras are frightened by a person or anything else, they will rise up and spread their hoods in warning—but their strike is very fast, and sometimes people are unable to avoid it.

An untreated bite from a monocled cobra may cause paralysis and eventually, death.
An untreated bite from a monocled cobra may cause paralysis and eventually, death.

The venom of the monocled cobra is primarily a neurotoxin, although it also has tissue-attacking properties. A neurotoxin is the sort of venom that attacks a person’s nervous system. After a bite, people may experience a lot of pain in the area where the bite happened, and they may start to suffer from paralysis in different areas of their body. Eventually, if the bite isn’t treated, the toxin will shut down the person’s nervous system, and he or she will generally die. This can happen within an hour in some cases.

When it comes to food, the monocled cobra often feeds on various rodent species, and this is generally the main reason the snakes frequently live in the same areas as people. Generally speaking, many rodents live in the same places as people, and they often survive on various human leftovers. The presence of the rodents tends to attract the snakes. Places with more rodents, such as farms and cities, may have a greater number of monocled cobras as well. When rodents are in short supply, the snakes will also kill different kinds of reptiles or birds.

These snakes give birth to a clutch of approximately 20 eggs every year. Like most snakes, they don’t actually raise their young, but they do generally stay around to protect the eggs until they hatch. In terms of population, the monocled cobra exists in relatively high numbers all over its habitat area, and it isn’t considered endangered.

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