True cobras in the Naja family include at least 38 species, but do not include king cobras. These cobras live in Africa and Asia, and all can raise up to reveal a flattened head when threatened. This posture makes them seem larger than they are and is a defense against threats. The name Naja comes from the Sanskrit word naja, meaning “snake” or “hairless, naked.”
The king cobra is not related to the Naja family, but also lives in Asia, as well as India, where it is the national reptile. King cobras are very large (up to 16 feet long). While they’re generally shy and avoid humans, they will aggressively defend their eggs. When threatened, they also rear up and flatten their heads to create a hood. They make a very low growling noise and can move quickly to strike. King cobras have been known to strike repeatedly and will hang onto their victim for up to 8 minutes.
Cobra’s are fierce predators, and are calculated creatures. Cobra’s are known for ‘rearing upwards’ when moving that is different to other snakes, and take this position as a form of attack when threatened.
Keywords to learn
Anticoagulant: causes the blood not to clot
Cardiotoxic: damages or stops the heart
Cytotoxic: damages skin and tissues
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Scientific Name:Coluber naja.
Mass:Up to 26lbs.
Length:Up to 20 feet.
Region found:Asia, India and Africa.
Current population trend:Threatened.
Diet:Snakes, other reptiles and birds.
Sexual maturity:2-3 years.
As you have just learned, cobras are known for their lethal venom and fierce attacks. These snakes are beautiful creatures, and yet very aggressive and dangerous, so be very aware if ever encountered, and know what to do to protect yourself.
Now that you know more about the cobra by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the cobra here: Cobra (answers are on this page)
Teachers. For more in depth work sheets on snakes. Click on Kidskonnect Worksheets
Cobra Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Spitting cobras don’t really spit, but they can project their venom, shooting at their victims. They usually do this as a defense. The venom can irritate the skin or cause temporary or permanent blindness if it gets in someone’s eyes.
- # 2. Cobra venom causes multiple problems in the body. It is a neurotoxin, which means that it causes paralysis and the inability to breathe. It is cytotoxic, and causes swelling and necrosis. It is also an anticoagulant and a cardiotoxin.
- # 3. Between 65 and 70 percent of cobra victims die from their bites, depending on the species, the severity of the bite, and available medical care. Death can occur in 30 minutes or less. Doctors in India and Asia are working on new and better treatments.
- # 4. King cobras, like all snakes, have forked tongues that they use to detect their prey’s movements. They can sense an animal moving 330 feet away from them.
- # 5. King cobras swallow their prey whole, eating animals much larger than their jaws, which can stretch and widen. They eat mostly snakes and lizards, but will also eat birds and mammals. They only eat once every few months.
# 1. How does a cobra’s venom work on its prey?
# 2. Why do cobras flatten their heads?
# 3. What do cobras typically eat?
# 4. How often do king cobras eat?
# 5. When and why do cobras show aggression?