Indian Cobra (Spectacled Cobra)

The Indian Cobra or Spectacled Cobra, Naja naja, is a species of venomous snake native to the Indian subcontinent. The Indian Cobra is one of the four most venomous snakes in India, but is accountable for few human fatalities.

Like other cobras, the Indian cobra is famous for its threat display involving raising the front part of its body and spreading its hood. On the rear of this hood are two circular patterns connected by a curved line, evoking the image of spectacles. On average, the Indian cobra grows to an average of 3 feet and rarely 6 feet in length. The female will lay between 12 and 30 eggs in an underground nest in late spring to summer which hatch 48 to 69 days later. Newborn cobras are 8 to 12 inches long and have fully functional venom glands.

Cobras normally feed on rodents and their normal habitat includes open forest and farmland. They are however also able to thrive in cities, living on rodents in the sewers and underground drains. Oriental Rat snakes are often mistaken for cobras, however these are much longer and can easily be told apart by the stronger ridged appearance of their body.

The Indian cobra’s celebrity comes from its popularity as a snake of choice for snake charmers. Its dramatic threat posture makes for a unique spectacle as it appears to sway to the tune of the charmers flute. Snake charmers and their cobras are a common sight all throughout India. The snake, of course, is deaf to the sound of the flute, but follows the visual cue of the moving pipe and it can sense the ground vibrations from the charmer’s tapping foot.

In the past Indian snake charmers also conducted Cobra and Mongoose fights. These gory fight shows in which the snake was usually killed are now illegal. The mongoose is not known to have any immunity to the venom, but its agility and thick fur helps overcome most snakes.