Naja naja

najanajaPop quiz! Does the Spectacled cobra aka Indian cobra (Naja naja) move to the sound of a snake charmer’s pipe because it can hear the music? Najo ma’am! While it can’t hear the music, it can follow the movement of the pipe with its eyes.1

Spectacled cobras live on the Indian subcontinent in jungles, grasslands, and urban areas where they feed on rodents, snakes, and other small critters. Like fellow member of the family Elapidae, the coral snake, the Indian cobra has a powerful neurotoxin in its potentially fatal venom. Although it has a scary reputation as one of the four snakes that cause the most snake bites in South Asia, it’s generally pretty chill and is probably just trying to eat the rats in your house or get out of the basket you stuck it in so it can go eat rats in your house. 1

Cobras look like pretty normal 3-6 foot snakes until they get into their defense posture. By raising the front of their bodies up and flaring long rib bones in their necks using specialized muscles, they transform themselves into the coolest, most magical looking snakes.2

Probably because they look so badass, cobras have a special place in Hindu mythology. Power myth! The story goes that there was this big venomous serpent with one hundred and ten hooded heads named Kaliya. Kaliya originally lived in the serpent world where serpents were supposed to live. In this world serpents had to pay tribute to the powerful bird humanoid named Garuda. Kaliya, having decided that he wasn’t going to pay tribute, was attacked by Garuda and had to jump into the Yamuna River to escape. Living in the Yamuna River afraid to leave, Kaliya couldn’t help but poison the waters with its venom. The water became so poisonous that it killed anything that touched it or even flew over it. Well, cowherders lived along the banks of the Yamuna River and liked to take their cows for a dip so this was a problem for them. One day the diety Krishna came around to help out the cowherders. He made himself really big and fought Kaliya and won, stepping on the hundred and ten heads of Kaliya with such force that it made the spectacle marks now seen on the back of the cobra’s hood.3

General Cobra Powerfacts! Although this cobra doesn’t spit, it’s fellow Najas the spitting cobras, when threatened, can spit a blinding venom at your eyes from a distance of 6 feet with near perfect aim!4 The king cobra, although not a member of Naja, is the longest venomous snake in the world at 18 feet. That means, when it raises the front of its body in a display, it can reach up to 6 feet tall!

  1. Wiki- Indian cobra
  2. Phys.org- Cobra hood flaring
  3. based on: Madrasmusings.com- The subjugation of Kaliya
  4. Nat Geo- Cobra spitting
  5. Wiki- King cobra

 

 

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