COBRA! Magnificent Snake that became an Acronym

COBRA...the name we don't forget

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The AC Cobra, wasn't she pretty?King Cobra taking it easyPerhaps the most beautiful cobra:  The Egyptian Red Spitting CobraSnake charmer; largely outlawed these daysThe Sri Lankan Cobra...note thumb and finger prints made by Buddha!
The AC Cobra, wasn't she pretty?
The AC Cobra, wasn't she pretty? | Source
King Cobra taking it easy
King Cobra taking it easy | Source
Perhaps the most beautiful cobra:  The Egyptian Red Spitting Cobra
Perhaps the most beautiful cobra: The Egyptian Red Spitting Cobra | Source
Snake charmer; largely outlawed these days
Snake charmer; largely outlawed these days | Source
The Sri Lankan Cobra...note thumb and finger prints made by Buddha!
The Sri Lankan Cobra...note thumb and finger prints made by Buddha! | Source

Cobras are feared, respected and even loved

There is no denizen of the wide world of reptiles which attracts more emotion than the Elapids, among which are found the venomous Cobras. This ranges from outright fear, through respect all over their range, to even love of the “Najas” in the great continent of India. The name “cobra” is actually that for snake in Portugal.

No venomous snake has the visual impact of the larger species as they open their formidable hoods, and, in the case of the giant of the species, the King Cobra, rise to a majestic height allowing them to look a person in the eyes as an equal, fixing two ebony eyes on the stranger, slowly beginning a hypnotic swaying from side to side.

Cobras are generally thought of as an Asian reptile, although Africa may have a few more species in actuality. The dying art (thank goodness) of snake charming was seen and described by thousands of tourists. What they did not realize perhaps is that there is actually eleven Asian species and they are all venomous but some are “spitters” and the rest just “biters.” The latter possess mostly neurotoxic venom, while the spitting fraternity – seeking to immobilise through pain and blinding – use a predominately cytotoxic venom.

There are more than 20 species of Cobras. Even one in the US, the “Micrurus Fulvius, better known perhaps as the Eastern Coral Snake.

They feed on small mammals, birds, rodents and amphibians as well as other snakes, they tend to hunt around human habitation which often brings them into contact with the home owner and his children.

As the cobra is seen as Buddha's protector by Asia's Buddhists and is also venerated by the area's Hindus. Sceptics will note that in Sri Lanka cobras the spectacle-like markings on the hood and upper body are really Buddha's thumb and finger-print. You remain a sceptic? Shame on you!

For these reasons, many Asians will not kill cobras, allowing them to remain around the houses and in rice-paddies etc., where they do rid the neighbourhood of vermin and unfortunately also send a lot of people to an early grave. The numbers of people who keep on surviving due to the snakes killing huge amounts of disease carrying rats also predisposes the nations in their favour.

The King Cobra is a glorious creature to behold indeed. It has a majestic and benign presence and seems possessed of an intelligence raising it above other reptiles. It is the longest venomous snake in the world. It builds a nest for its young and stays to guard them against all comers, even elephants which it may strike on the sensitive trunk-tip causing the huge beast's demise!

More like a large dog, the King can show its fangs and even growl quite loudly, although they are loath to actually attack humans and rarely do so, perhaps because most who encounter this snake beat a hasty retreat. It is also more confined to areas away from human habitation. Its diet largely consists of other venomous snakes, especially the rattlesnakes on Asia.

A full-on, enraged attack from a large King Cobra could inject up to 500 mg of venom and an attack like this would insure death within minutes without immediate hospitalisation and antivenin, (the average toxic dose for an adult human is around 25 mg!).

Handlers have reported a spiritual feeling when capturing a King Cobra, almost as if the snake was asking them, “Why?” (from Mark O'Shea's books).

The saliva of Spitting Cobras is very nasty indeed. They can spit twin jets of venom very accurately from up to 12 feet into a molester's eyes. This can cause temporary and permanent blindness as well as severe pain. They also have a dangerous, life-threatening bite.

All large venomous snakes are aware of the potential of their defences and will not employ them to non-prey animals such as man without provocation: even then, they may decide not to inject the full wallop of venom, but you won't enjoy the pain and effects of even 2 mg's of King Cobra, Taipan, or Mambo venom. (three worst in the world).

The rule is keep clear of all snakes, especially true in Africa with such diversity and so many similarities between non and venomous snakes. Australia is the only continent making it easy....90% of their snakes are deadly, and several are the world's worst so they are not to be handled by the amateur – indeed, venomous snakes have killed or disfigured many experienced handlers and herpetologists so beware.

Cobra is a word loaded with so much menace and imagery, it has been co-opted in many areas of commerce and human endeavour.

Cobra car – the AC Cobra of the 60's, 180 mph screamer.

COBRA – the Cabinet Office Briefing Room

Cobra action film with Sly Stallone (who else?)

Bell Cobra deadly helicopter

COBRA armoured vehicle

Etc, etc., I'm sure you can think of more.

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Comments 13 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 15 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

The Shelby 427 Cobra was an absurdly overpowered car. I wanted one of course, but the $6,000.00, 1960's price tag was out of my reach.

I don't suffer from ophiophobia, but I do have a healthy respect for venomous snakes, and the hooded cobra is especially ferocious in appearance.

I wish I could vote this up, Bob!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 15 months ago from North Texas

Interesting and informative as always. I'm not fond of snakes, not even the little grass snakes that are plentiful here and of no threat.

Good to see you here Bobby. Hope all is well with you and that you're bright eyed and bushy tailed! ;) Take care . . . xx

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 15 months ago from Rural Arizona

Hello Bob, great information as always. Like most people, I don't much care for any kind of snake. I live in a rural area here in Arizona and more than half the residents of my county are rattlesnakes. I have had some really close calls, but never have been snake bit.

One of my employees suffered a rattlesnake bite and $125,000 dollars later he was just fine. Of course my insurance company cancelled my policy but at least they paid the entire bill.

However we also have a large pack rat population whom would probably take over if they were not a favorite food of the rattlesnakes. But the deal I made with the rattlesnakes is if they stay away from the house area they are OK. If they wander into the yard they are going to heaven.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 15 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Will: We all loved that car. They fetch a king's ransom now in good condition. Bob

diogenes profile image

diogenes 15 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Misty: Em...Not really but still hanging in

Bob Hope you are still hitting 'em over the wall!

diogenes profile image

diogenes 15 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Yes, rattlers, deadly as well and with a worse disposition at times than the cobras I think.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 15 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

As Mike (Old Poolman) points out, we have lots of nasty critters here in Arizona, including my favorite enemy, the pack rat. Those little &%&$#&'s will eat the wiring out of your car/boat/RV/whatever, and then build a nest on the exhaust manifold where it's sure to catch fire. For that reason, I support a rattler's right to a distance if you please.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 15 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Well, I am pleased that these venomous critters are not indigenous to New England, USA. Not many realize these ominous fellows can spit their defensive venom for many feet. "Handlers have reported a spiritual feeling when capturing a King Cobra, almost as if the snake was asking them, “Why?” (from Mark O'Shea's books). My response would be: Why the heck not? :-) This is fascinating.

diogenes 15 months ago

Hi Genna

...Then the King would say, "Why the hell don't I bite you,then!?"


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 15 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Most thoughtful and well done piece, very easy to read and remain entertained.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 15 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks for comments AN...It's getting hard to think of something to write about


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 15 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I sometimes forget to compliment you on the superb quality of your Hubs, Bob, because high quality for you is routine.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 14 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks Will...back at ya with that one. I can't believe how the last years have flown. My first article was about my two budgies; I still have two budgies, but the original pair have long gone to that bird paradise in the sky and have had two more in between. I did have the original cage (huge) until yesterday when it went on Ebay and a more practical one is in its place.

Foggy here today; expect you are in full sunshine as per...


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