15 Types of Cobras From Around the World! (2024)

Do you want to learn about the types of cobras found around the world?

If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the wide variety of cobras you can find. Cobras have a few things in common. They all have hoods, or widened skin at their necks, which they expand when threatened. They are also all VENOMOUS!

For each species, you will find out how to identify that cobra correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!

Here are 15 types of cobras that are found around the world:

#1. Cape Cobra

  • Naja nivea

Also known as Yellow Cobra and Black Spitting Cobra

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their typical length is between 120-140 cm (47-55 in), but some have been recorded to grow up to 188 cm (74 in).
  • Male Cape Cobras are slightly larger than females.
  • Their colors vary, ranging from bright yellow, dark brown, and reddish black to speckled. 
  • Juveniles have dark bands from the throat to the belly for their first two years.

The Cape Cobra is found along savannas, shrublands, and deserts in Africa. Although it’s mostly a terrestrial snake that hunts on land, this venomous species is surprisingly agile near water or atop trees.

Be extra careful if you find yourself within Cape Cobra territory. Among snakes in Africa, it’s considered one of the most dangerous because its venom targets the respiratory and nervous systems. Seek immediate treatment if bitten because victims have been reported to die within an hour. 

Like most snakes, the Cape Cobra prefers to flee than fight. However, it can strike without notice if it feels trapped. Be especially wary during this cobra’s mating period in September and October, when it’s more aggressive than usual.

#2. Brown Forest Cobra

  • Naja subfulva

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 200-275 cm (79-108 in) long on average.
  • They are mostly brownish yellow on the head, darkening to pitch black on the tail. There are light-colored spots all over the body.
  • Other notable characteristics are black stripes under the eyes and a band of small black dots near the throat. 

Brown Forest Cobras are mostly limited to savanna woodlands in Africa. This highly alert and intelligent cobra leaves its lair when the sun is out. If it’s not busy basking in the heat, it goes hunting for its usual lunch: birds and small mammals.

Thankfully, snakebite incidents are rare because Brown Forest Cobras live far away from human civilization. Even if you encounter them, their first instinct is to flee. Nonetheless, stay back as their venom can cause tissue damage, difficulty breathing, and even death if left untreated.

#3. Black-necked Spitting Cobra

  • Naja nigricollis

  • A. Morph #1: Black or gray body with pink bars on the broad neck and a reddish belly.
  • B. Morph #2: Light brown or yellow body with no neck bands.
  • C. Morph #3: White and black stripes on the body or solid white with dark eyes.
  • The average length is 1-2 m (4-7 ft).

Look for these snakes in Africa near streams and rivers in savannas.

Black-necked Spitting Cobras are highly adaptable and can be active day or night. This far-ranging snake’s prey includes small vertebrates on the ground or bird eggs in trees.

When confronting possible threats, Black-necked Spitting Cobras rise from the ground and spread their impressive neck hoods. Then, true to their name, they will spit venom to blind their aggressors. Keep your eyes covered because these cobras have amazing aim and can hit their target up to seven meters away!

Black-necked Spitting Cobra bites can cause symptoms such as swelling, blistering, extreme pain, and loss of limb function. In worst-case scenarios, death may occur due to paralysis of the diaphragm.

#4. Egyptian Cobra

  • Naja haje

Also known as the Brown Cobra

Identifying Characteristics:

  • On average, these snakes are 140-259 cm (55-102 in) long.
  • The easiest way to recognize the Egyptian Cobra is through its broad, flattened head distinct from its long, ribbed neck, which expands to form a hood when it feels threatened.
  • Coloration varies geographically, but the most common is brown. However, some snakes are red, gray, or black.

The Egyptian Cobra is as deadly as it is famous. It can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where Pharaohs used it to symbolize their power to take life. Today, you’ll find this snake in Africa swimming in shallow waters or resting in abandoned animal burrows. 

The venom of the Egyptian Cobra has neurotoxins and cytotoxins that assault the nervous system. Respiratory failure and death may happen in the worst-case scenario. The venom is slow-acting, so seek treatment if you get bitten, even if you don’t immediately show symptoms. 

Foraging for food sometimes brings the Egyptian Cobra to human settlements. However, it will favor escaping if confronted. Its favorite meals are toads, but it will also go for lizards, birds, and other snakes.

#5. Forest Cobra 

  • Naja melanoleuca

Also known as Central African Forest Cobra, Black Cobra, Black and White-lipped Cobra

  • A. Morph #1 (for forests): Glossy black body with broad cross-bars and blotches. There are black and white bars on the lips. The underside is white.
  • B. Morph #2 (for savannas): The body has black and yellow bands with a black tail. The head, lips, and throat are yellow.
  • C. Morph #3 (for coastal plains): Black body fades to brown towards the tail. The belly is creamy yellow and heavily speckled. Some specimens are completely black.

If you want to avoid this snake in Africa, don’t go peeking around holes in the ground!

This DANGEROUS venomous species likes to nest in burrows. The Forest Cobra is the largest cobra species in the world, attaining lengths of 140-320 cm (55-126 in), and prefers living in wet woods. However, it adapts easily to drier environments as long as there’s access to a body of water.

These snakes eat a wide variety of food. Being semi-aquatic, they sometimes enjoy hunting for fish and amphibians. But they also spend time hunting rodents, lizards, and other snakes on land. However, tree-dwellers aren’t safe either. The Forest cobra will nimbly climb trees to eat insects and bird eggs. 

A bite from a Forest Cobra delivers large quantities of highly potent venom, capable of killing a human within 30 minutes. Therefore, extreme caution is advised in the presence of this highly aggressive and dangerous snake.

#6. Mozambique Spitting Cobra

  • Naja mossambica

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 91-106 cm (36-42 in) long.
  • Their back may be slate to blue, olive, or tawny black, while their underside is salmon-pink to purple-yellow with black bars on their throats.
  • They have hoods on their necks, which they expand when threatened.

You’ll have to stay up late to find these venomous snakes in Africa.

Mozambique Spitting Cobras are nocturnal and terrestrial, hunting at night and spending most of their days hidden away in crevices, holes, and termite hills. But if you run into one, watch out! Mozambique Spitting Cobras are considered one of the most dangerous species in Africa.

Mozambique Cobras are nervous and quick to attack when they feel threatened. They rear up, lifting up to two-thirds of their body off the ground, spreading their hood, and spitting at their attacker’s eyes. They can spit 1.8-2 m (6.5-10 ft) with surprising accuracy. If their attacker gets close, they strike with a vicious bite.

Their venom contains both cytotoxins and neurotoxins. If the venom gets into a victim’s eyes, it can cause permanent damage and blindness. In addition, bites cause severe pain, swelling, necrosis, vomiting, respiratory distress, and dizziness. Without immediate medical attention, the symptoms can be deadly.

Mozambique Cobras are incredible predators that feed on birds, amphibians, eggs, small mammals, carrion, and other snakes. Most incredibly, these dangerous cobras will even attack the notorious Black Mamba and have developed an immunity to their venom.

#7. Snouted Cobra

  • Naja annulifera

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.2-2.5 m (4-8 ft) long.
  • They have impressively large hoods.
  • Their varied coloring may be yellowish, grayish-brown, dark brown, or blue-black, sometimes with contrasting bands on their backs.

Snouted Cobras live in moist and dry savannas in Africa. They prefer areas with predominately thorny, shrubby vegetation or open woodland interspersed with openings of long grass. They spend most of their time near a favorite retreat, like an abandoned termite mound. If left undisturbed, they’ll use the same retreat for years.

During the day, they like to bask in the sun near their shelter, and they come out to hunt at dusk. Snouted Cobras actively seek prey and feed on birds, bird eggs, lizards, rodents, toads, and other snakes, especially Puff Adders. Around human dwellings, they’ll often raid chicken houses and can become a nuisance.

While they’re not aggressive, Snouted Cobras will defend themselves. They lift the front portion of their body off the ground, open an impressive neck hood, and hiss. Occasionally, they play dead, but this behavior is rare in this species. However, if further threatened, they will strike.

Snouted Cobras have a potent neurotoxic venom. Bites on humans are often at night on the lower leg. They can cause difficulty breathing, pain, swelling, and blistering. If left untreated, they can result in respiratory failure and death. Seek medical treatment immediately if you are bitten!

#8. Anchieta’s Cobra

  • Naja anchietae

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1-2.2 m (3-7.5 ft) long.
  • They have a prominent neck hood, a blue-black throat band, and a rounded snout.
  • Their coloring is orange-brown to purple-brown on the back and yellow below with dark brown blotches.

You’ll likely want to avoid this highly venomous snake in Africa!

Anchieta’s Cobras are large and intimidating. They live in savanna habitats known as bushveld, areas with predominately thorny, shrubby vegetation. However, they occasionally venture into areas of human settlement and shelter beneath houses, along rivers, and near wetlands.

Even though they’re nocturnal, you may spot one in the sun during the day. They usually bask near sheltered spots, including old termite mounds, hollow trees, or dense shrubs or vegetation. This allows them a quick retreat if they sense danger.

While they typically flee if given a chance, Anchieta’s Cobras can put on a frightening display when they feel threatened. They lift the front portion of their body off the ground and spread their hood, which can measure 10-13 cm (4-5 in) wide! Occasionally, they play dead, but not as often as other species.

Anchieta’s Cobras strike as a last resort, and bites are rare but can be deadly. Their venom contains potent neurotoxic and cardiotoxic compounds. Due to their size, these snakes also tend to inject large amounts of venom. Bites may cause blistering, tissue damage, and fatalities. If you spot one of these snakes in the wild, leave it alone and give it plenty of space!

#9. Ashe’s Spitting Cobra

  • Naja ashei

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.3–2.0 m (4.3–6.6 ft) long.
  • They have thick bodies, broad heads, and dark throat bands.
  • Their color varies and may be light brown, mustard, dark brown, or light gray with a pale underside.

As their name suggests, Ashe’s Spitting Cobras can spit venom at their attacker’s eyes. Watch out! They can hit their target from 2 m (6.5 ft) away and will continue spitting for hours if they remain cornered. Their powerful venom can destroy the cornea and cause permanent blindness if not treated immediately.

These dangerous cobras also bite, and their strike contains more venom than most other types of spitting cobras. Their venom contains neurotoxins and cytotoxins known to have a necrotizing effect, killing tissue around the wound. If bitten or spit on, seek medical attention immediately!

While their defensive behavior may earn them a fearsome reputation, Ashe’s Spitting Cobras and other related spitting cobras may be helpful to humans. Their venom contains antimicrobial and antibacterial compounds. Scientists are testing these compounds against bacteria in the hope that they may be helpful against superbugs as more antibiotic-resistant bacterias evolve.

#10. Red Spitting Cobra

  • Naja pallida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 0.75-1.5 m (2.5-5 ft) long.
  • They have completely black eyes, a neck hood, and teardrop markings under the eyes.
  • Their coloring is typically bright salmon-red with a broad, dark throat band.

They may not be considered deadly, but you’ll still want to look out for these venomous snakes in Africa! Red Spitting Cobras prefer warm lowland areas such as savannas and semi-deserts. However, they occur across a large and diverse range and occasionally venture into wetlands and even populated areas. Unfortunately, they often enter houses seeking prey.

Unlike many snakes that use an ambush hunting technique, Red Spitting Cobras actively hunt and chase down prey. They can accurately spit venom from a range of about 2.5 m (8 ft) to blind their target. Before striking, these cobras will also make erratic movements to disorient their victim. Once they’ve caught something, they swallow it whole.

Their ability to spit venom is an incredibly effective defense mechanism, meaning these cobras have no true predators. If threatened, Red Spitting Cobras stand up tall, hiss, spread their hood, and spit at an attacker up to 40 times in two minutes! Their venom contains cytotoxins and neurotoxins, which will damage the eyes and cause blindness if left untreated, so it’s best to give these snakes plenty of space!

If you get within range, Red Spitting Cobras will strike without hesitation. Victims should seek medical treatment immediately and often require anti-venom. A bite from a Red Spitting Cobra can cause pain, swelling, and tissue damage.

#11. Indian Cobra

  • Naja naja

Also known as Spectacled Cobra, Binocellate Cobra, or Asian Cobra.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1-1.5 meters (3.2-5 ft) long.
  • They are uniformly black on top, while the underside is light gray, tan, or brown. Horizontal black bars decorate the throat.
  • A pattern similar to a pair of glasses can be seen on the back of the neck, in the center of this species’ hood.

The Indian Cobra is a member of the “Big Four,” a group of snakes responsible for almost all deaths caused by snakes in Asia. Its venom has a potent neurotoxin that leads to muscle paralysis and respiratory failure. It’s vital to be treated with the antivenom within 30 minutes to avoid the worst symptoms, so get treatment as soon as possible if you’re bitten. 

This species lives in varied habitats throughout its range. It can be found in forests, plains, agricultural lands, wetlands, and rocky terrain. It even inhabits heavily populated urban areas, villages, and city outskirts. 

Many people recognize Indian Cobras because of their use by Indian snake charmers. They also used to be used in snake fighting shows. Luckily, this practice has been outlawed.

#12. Chinese Cobra

  • Naja atra

Also known as Taiwan Cobra. 

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) long.
  • Their coloring is iridescent black overall, with several white or yellow lines on the body and a white throat.
  • They have the prominent fanned hood typical of a cobra species.

The Chinese Cobra is one of the most venomous snakes in Asia.

Its typical habitat is shrublands and mangroves. However, it’s highly adaptable to a wide range of terrain, including grassland plains, open fields, jungle, and even heavily populated regions. The only habitat it avoids is dark forests with a closed canopy.

The Chinese Cobra has a varied diet and hunts both night and day, so you can see this species at any time. Unfortunately, this makes it even more dangerous for people who are caught unaware. Many accidentally stumble upon a Chinese Cobra and are bitten before they notice the snake.

This species’ highly venomous bite contains cardiotoxins, which damage the heart and muscles, and neurotoxins, which damage the brain and nerves. This combination causes life-threatening symptoms, including necrosis, chest pain, fever, lockjaw, and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, antivenom is widely available, so seek immediate treatment if you’re bitten.

#13. King Cobra

  • Ophiophagus hannah

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 3-3.6 m (10-12 ft) long, but the largest specimens can grow up to 5.4 m (18 ft).
  • Their coloring is olive green with black and white bands on the body.
  • They have a prominent hood that opens in a defensive stance and a rounded nose.

The King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in Asia.

Despite its size, this species is not considered particularly aggressive. It usually avoids humans and slinks off when disturbed. However, it is known to defend incubating eggs aggressively and strikes intruders rapidly. A single attack can deliver multiple bites.

Interestingly, the venom of hatchlings is as potent as the adults’. The babies are brightly marked, but these colors often fade as they mature. In addition, they are often nervous and alert, which makes them highly aggressive if disturbed. 

Whether you encounter a juvenile or an adult, it’s best to give this dangerous snake a lot of space. Its bite results in excruciating pain, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, and even paralysis. If the bite victim doesn’t receive medical help, they can die from cardiovascular and respiratory failure within 30 minutes of the bite. Stay back!

#14. Central Asian Cobra

  • Naja oxiana

Also known as Caspian Cobra, Ladle Snake, Black Cobra, Brown Cobra, Russian Cobra, Oxus Cobra, Trans-Caspian Cobra, and Acellate Cobra.

Credit: Omid Mozaffari via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These heavy-bodied snakes reach 100-140 cm (39-55 in) long. 
  • Their snouts are blunt and short with large nostrils.
  • They are shades of brown or yellow with dark bands across their throats.
  • Juveniles are paler in color.

The Central Asian Cobra is INCREDIBLY VENOMOUS. One bite is potent enough to kill 40 adult humans! Fortunately, it avoids humans and prefers to escape if approached. 

Look for this snake in the Middle East in rocky foothills, shrublands, and forests far from civilization. Central Asian Cobras are fantastic climbers and capable swimmers. They feed on rodents, amphibians, fish, and birds, then hide in tree hollows to rest. 

Central Asian Cobras are terrifyingly aggressive if cornered, especially juveniles. First, they will spread their hoods and sway from side to side while hissing a warning. Then, as a last resort, they will repeatedly strike with astonishing speed. Stay back!

#15. Arabian Cobra

  • Naja arabica

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 240 cm (94 in) long.
  • Their heads are broad and flattened with round snouts.
  • The coloring is brown, copper, or dark gold, with pale throats and bellies.

It’s rare to see this snake in the Middle East.

That’s because Arabian Cobras live in remote areas in the hottest deserts of the world! They stay close to the sparse vegetation and bodies of water in oases. During the day, they hunt frogs, small mammals, birds, and other snakes.

Guard your eyes! The Arabian Cobra can spray venom from 8 feet (2.4 m) away. As with other cobras, it will raise its forebody off the ground and spread its neck hood when confronting threats. This snake can be wildly unpredictable, so stay away.

Arabian Cobra venom is neurotoxic, attacking the nervous system and causing paralysis. Within hours, the lungs can shut down, resulting in death. There might not be pain or swelling in the bite area, but don’t let that fool you. Seek medical attention immediately!

Did you know that Cobras are considered venomous, NOT poisonous?

There is common confusion between the two. Poisonous means something that is ingested. Venomous means something is injected. So, for example, If you eat something that makes you sick, then it is considered poisonous. But if an animal, like a snake, delivers its toxins when it bites, then it’s considered venomous.

Learn more about dangerous animals in these ID Guides:

Which of these Cobras have you seen before?

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