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Monocled cobraMonocled cobra Cobras are venomous snakes with a hood of skin behind their heads which they use in a threat display. They live in both Asia and southern Africa. Cobras have two fangs at the front of their mouths, used to inject a venom that paralyses, then kills, their prey. Cobras eat mainly other snakes, lizards, small mammals and frogs. They rarely attack humans, but will do so if disturbed. Their main predators are other snakes and mongooses.

A cobra about to strikeA cobra about to strike


Cobras have two long, sharp fangs that can deliver a deadly venom to their prey. When they are startled or threatened, cobras rear up and spread out the hoods of skin behind their heads to frighten their attackers. They may also make a low growl-like hiss. Cobras can strike with lightning speed. Their venom first paralyses, then kills, their prey. 

King cobraKing cobra

King cobra

The king cobra, from South and Southeast Asia, preys mainly on other snakes. Over 5 metres (16 feet) long, it is the world's largest venomous snake. It is also one of the most feared. An adult human can die from a single bite in less than 15 minutes. Its main predator is the mongoose, which has resistance to its venom. If unable to flee from a mongoose, the king cobra spreads it hood, emits hisses and makes pretend strikes. Being too large for the mongoose to kill with ease, this threat display is usually successful.

The name cobra is short for cobra de capelo, which is Portuguese for "snake with hood".

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