Egyptian Cobra

Scientific classification












The Egyptian Cobra (Naja Haje) is a poisonous snake found in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.


It can grow to a length of between 1.5 and 2.4 m. The most recognizable feature of an Egyptian cobra is its head and hood. The head is large and depressed with a broad snout. The snake”s eyes are large with a round pupil. Its throat may range from 15 to 18 cm in width. The color varies, but most of them are a shade of maroon, often with lighter or darker patches and often with a “drop” mark below the eye. The samples from northwest Africa (Morocco, Western Sahara) are almost entirely black.


The Egyptian cobra usually makes its home in the wet and dry savannas and in semi-desert regions with at least a little water and vegetation (never in desert regions). The Cobra can also be found in oases, agricultural areas and hills with sparse vegetation. These snakes are not afraid of humans and often enter houses. They are attracted to the villages by chickens and rats that are attracted by garbage. There are also reports of Egyptian cobras swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.


This snake is terrestrial and nocturnal in the wild, although in captivity they tend to be diurnal. It can, however, be seen under the sun, sometimes in the early morning. It shows a preference for a permanent home such as burrows abandoned by an animal, termite mounds or outcrops of rock and other. Sometimes it enters human habitations to hunt poultry. It usually tries to flee when approached, at least for a few meters, but if threatened it takes the typical upright posture, with the hood extended. This snake hunts small mammals, lizards, frogs, snakes and other.


The average amount of venom usually reaches 175-200 mg in a single bite. It is the fourth most poisonous snake species. It has a neurotoxic venom that affects the nervous system, stopping the nerve signals from being transmitted to the muscles and, in later stages, stopping those transmitted to the heart and lungs, thus causing death due to total respiratory failure. The poison causes local pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, necrosis and various non-specific effects that can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions. This species does not spit venom.


Most ancient sources say that Cleopatra and her two assistants committed suicide by being bitten by an Aspis, translated into English as “ASP”. The snake would have been smuggled to her room in a basket of figs. Plutarch wrote that she conducted experiments on convicted prisoners and found that the aspis venom is the most painless of all deadly poisons. This Aspis was probably the Egyptian cobra. However, the myth of her apparent suicide has been questioned, since death by this snake venom is relatively slow, and the serpent is large and would therefore be difficult to hide.