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Indian Cobra Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Indian Cobra
Scientific Name:Naja naja
Life Span:More than 20 years in the wild and more than 30 years in captivity
Size:4 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.3 meters)
Habitat:Rice fields, rainforest, cultivated land
Country of Origin:India, Southeast Asia, Central Asia
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Physical Description

The Indian Cobra is one of the most venomous snake species in the world. This deadly snake is of the family of Elapidae which is found in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the Indian subcontinent. This is a spectacled cobra that has a distinguishing mark of half-ring patterns on the back of its neck. It can grow more than 2 meters in the right condition. It’s a long snake that has a hood over its neck vertebrae. Once the snake felt threatened, it inflates its neck, and this is where the pattern on the back of its neck becomes more obvious. These snakes come in a variety of colors such as brown, creamy white, and even black. 

You can easily identify these cobras through its large and marked hood. They can be found throughout India and have a wide range of habitats in Asia. They can inhabit wetlands, rainforest, plains, rice fields, cultivated lands, and open or dense forests. Although there has never been a report yet of Indian Cobra sighting on the desert. They can also be found in areas where the water supply is near. What makes these snakes even more dangerous is that they are not afraid of humans. They inhabit agricultural lands, rice paddy fields, and can even live in heavily populated urban areas. Many people in India have been bitten by these venomous cobras, and some of them were bitten in villages and even the outskirts of cities. 

These snakes also love to hide in caves, rock piles, empty termite mounds, holes, tree hollows, mammal dens, and even cracks. Also known as ‘naja,’ these are medium-sized cobras that can reach more than 5 feet in length. Indian Cobra is also one of the heavy-bodied snakes in the world. Their heads have an elliptical shape and have large nostrils. Meanwhile, their snouts are short and rounded. The cobra has medium-sized eyes with round pupils, and their body is covered in smooth scales which varies in color. The bellies of these snakes have coloration that ranges from black, brown to red, yellow, tan, and even grey. 

Aside from having a distinct hood mark, these cobras also feature the wide black band in their throat area. The markings on their hood are form 2 circular ocelli which are then connected by a curved line. The marks look like human spectacles, hence one of its famous names is called the ‘spectacled cobra.’ The snake can reach up to 7 feet and can weigh more than 20 pounds. 

Lifespan

In the wild, Indian Cobra can live more than 20 years, but they can thrive and survive longer when held in captivity. In fact, some keepers claimed that they were able to care for Indian Cobras for more than 30 years. Apart from outstanding care, the cobra’s intelligence and highly adaptable characteristics attributed to its remarkable longevity. Their lives are cut short, though when found in areas occupied by humans. Just like any other cobras, the Naja naja is highly intelligent, and they can quickly learn and adapt to their environment. Their intelligence and excellent stealth and hunting skills partially account for their longer lifespan. They are also very resilient snakes and do not easily succumb to health problems or illnesses. 

To extend the life of these snakes while in captivity, you have to make sure that you create an environment that replicates their natural habitat. You also have to ensure that you monitor, control, and regular environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and even moisture. 

Life Cycle

1) Eggs

Female Indian Cobras can lay up to 10 to 65 eggs a year. The female lay her eggs about 9 weeks after mating with the chosen male. The sperm is stored in the oviduct, and this is where the ovary delivers the unfertilized eggs. Before the eggs are laid or released, they need to be stored in the oviduct first where the fertilization process happens. Female Indian cobras can be very aggressive when laying her eggs. She’s one of the most caring mothers in the snake species. She creates a nest of leaves where she’ll lay all her eggs and then cover it with another set of leaves. She’ll also lay on top of her eggs to boost incubation. What’s more interesting is that she produce a vibration motion in her body to generate heat that is required for incubation.

You must have a trap box or hide box inside your enclosure if you want to breed and produce Indian Cobra hatchlings. These cobras love to lay their eggs under rocks, cracks, holes, and small caves. Mimicking this nature should increase the chances of successful hatching. The incubation period should last from 40 to 85 days. 

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2) Hatchlings

After the successful incubation process, hatchlings will begin to emerge. This is the time where female cobras will leave. Due to this nature, only a few percentages of hatchlings or young snakes survive in the wild. Chances of hatchling survival are greater in captivity. The size of these cobra hatchlings depends on their health, environment, and species. The average Indian Cobra hatchling length can be as long as 15 to 20 inches. Another incredible nature that you’ll observe from these snakes is that after the hatchlings merge, a large part of the egg is left, which is the yolk. 

The yolk then becomes the food supply of these hatchlings. It provides adequate nourishment to the baby snakes. The yolk can supplement all their dietary needs for about 2 weeks. Although the female snakes abandon her hatchlings, she leaves them with food supply. And even though they are still young, the hatchlings can defend themselves and can strike and spread its hood when threatened. 

3) Maturity

Indian Cobras reach maturity between 3 to 7 years. They grow bigger, and their length extends during these years. These snakes can grow as long as 4 to 8 feet. It can also weigh as much as 10 to 20 pounds. These snakes are considered venomous but not poisonous. This means that they can be eaten and one of the most common predators of cobras is the mongoose. You can also find humans who are eating them. 

Be very careful when handling adult Indian Cobras since they can release an insane amount of venom in one bite. It is said that a bite of these snakes can kill an elephant. Adult cobras prey on different prey items such as rats, mice, rabbits, rodents, eggs, birds, and other smaller eggs. And since these snakes have a very slow metabolism, they can survive both in the wild and in captivity without a portion of food for days and even months. 

Eating Habits

These cobras love preying on rodents, but they are also found of eating various animals that are smaller than them. They are fearless when it comes to hunting for prey. And in search of prey items such as rodents, they enter into human dwellings. The snake is also a remarkable climber that’s why you see them on top of the buildings or rooftops. Indian Cobras are also seen climbing on trees to look for rodents. They strike and bite very quickly. Their fangs release high amounts of deadly venom that easily kills and paralyzes their prey. 

These snakes are highly neurotoxic, which means that their venom attacks the nervous system of their prey. The venom also contains cardiotoxins which can easily stop the heartbeat of their preys. Once they found their prey, they bite them, and the waiting begins. The bitten prey will experience muscle paralysis, extreme salivation, and weakening of limbs. This is where the snake takes advantage of its prey. 

The venom of an Indian Cobra is one of the most fast-acting venoms found in the snake species. The prey or bitten victim can die for only about 10 minutes to 3 hours after the bite. Any keeper who is bitten by these cobras should seek medical attention the soonest time possible. Reports show that there are only about 10 percent bites on human beings that provide to be deadly. There are also reports where bitten human beings were not able to receive anti-venom treatment and were still able to survive. 

Sleeping Habits

Cobras are known to sleep around 10 to 15 hours a day, although there are reports in which these snakes are observed sleeping for more than 20 hours. Indian Cobras are also considered as diurnal. This means that they are most active during the day and rest in the night time. 

Development and Reproduction

Indian Cobras reproduce by mating male and female snakes. Like other snakes, the male cobra fertilizes the eggs of the female. Unlike most snakes that exhibit no parental care for their eggs, the Indian Cobra defends its eggs until they hatch. It’s the female that stays with the eggs and incubate them, but the males have nothing to do with the offspring. She defends and protects her eggs without fear from any potential predators. They lay and keep their eggs under rocks, cracks, crevices, holes, hollow trees, and empty termite mounds. A female cobra can lay 7 to 48 eggs per clutch. Meanwhile, the incubation period happens for 45 to 90 days. And once the eggs hatch, the female will then move away from the nesting area. Mating between Indian Cobras happens between the month of April and August. And just like any other cobras, the breeding behavior of the Indian Cobra is almost similar. The female builds a nest, and the pair remains together. 

How to Breed 

Breeding these cobras can be quite challenging since they are highly venomous. It’s essential to be extra careful when it comes to handling them. The key to successful breeding is to mimic their natural habitat like regulating the right temperature. Providing proper areas for breeding Indian cobra is also essential. The keeper should provide a spot or area inside the enclosure where the female can safely and securely lay her eggs. To encourage male and female cobras, the temperature and humidity inside the enclosure should be adjusted. The cobra mating seasons begin once the weather warms up and this kind of climate should be replicated inside the enclosure. 

The female is ready to mate when she releases a special hormone. This hormone invites the male to track and trail her. Male cobras know whether or not the female is ready for breeding or mating. You will then place the male and female inside the same enclosure. If both are healthy and ready to breed, then you can expect the male to smell the female. The quest for trailing the smell is also observable. Males, in their cage, will start to become more mobile. They look like they are looking for something, which is the female. This is one of the best signs that you need to watch out for when breeding Indian Cobras. 

Place the male and female together inside the cage or enclosure. You need to provide a large space. Inside the same enclosure, the male will find the female immediately. The mating ritual then begins. The female Indian Cobra will flaunt her beautiful hood. She’ll start moving her head and body and will pose various angles. Be patient when breeding these snakes since it might take a while before they start mating. It’s also typical to notice females that don’t look interested or won’t cooperate with the mating ritual right away. 

Sooner or later, the two should find a connection, and the female will start to capitulate. Once the male senses that she’s ready, he’ll then wrap his tail around her and will lift his head on the back of the female. The male cobra has two sex organs, and they are known as hemipenes. He will insert one of his two sex organs into the female’s cloaca. The cloaca is the exit point for both the reproductive fluid and the waste of the female. The two cobras will stay in this clinging position for about an hour or so. There are cases though that the mating can only last for a few minutes, and there are also instances where it takes two or more days before they begin separating. 

The female cobras in the wild will start building her nest for her eggs, but in captivity, you can help her by providing her a spot where she can comfortably lay her eggs. You can also add leaves and branches inside the enclosure. 

Common Health Problems

Indian Problems can acquire different kinds of health problems that are found in other snakes. Knowing different illnesses and diseases, they might acquire can help you determine the best treatment. Taking care of these magnificent snakes can be very challenging due to their aggressive and venomous nature. However, with proper knowledge and the right skills, they should be able to healthily thrive and survive in captivity. Here are some of the common health problems of Indian Cobra.

1) Infectious Stomatitis

Also known as ‘mouth rot,’ stomatitis is common to all kinds of snakes. This is where snakes lose their appetite. Severe stomatitis, if left untreated, can make your snake weak and lethargic. It can also lead to a more serious disease. Signs of stomatitis include excessive thick mucus found in the mouth and some hemorrhages on the gums. The mucus may contain pus or blood which resembles cottage cheese. Also, the mouth of the snake will appear swollen. Swollen mouths make it hard for them to eat and to breathe. Leading causes of mouth rot include an unhygienic enclosure, improper nutrition, and poor environmental conditions such as improper humidity and temperature. Overcrowding can also be the leading cause of this disease.

2) Skin Infection 

Another common problem that can affect the health of your cobra is a skin infection. All snakes and other reptiles can be a victim of this health problem. Skin infection, or sometimes referred to as dermatitis, can happen to all snakes and other reptiles as well. This happens when you keep your cobra in an enclosure where there is too much dirt. Cleaning the enclosure is essential if you want to keep your snakes healthy and avoid dermatitis. Another cause of skin infection is too much moisture inside the enclosure.

You’ll know that your cobra is affected by this health problem if their skin appears to be inflamed. The redness of the skin is also noticeable,  and some can develop blister-like lesions. Most of the time, the signs can be seed in on the underside of your pet. If left untreated, skin infection can lead to bacterial infection and can enter into the bloodstream of the snake, leading to septicemia. Septicemia happens when toxins and bacteria proliferate inside the blood vessels and organs of your snake. Signs include discoloration of bellies and skin, lack of appetite, weakness, and lethargy. It can also lead to death without proper treatment. 

3) Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are also caused by bacteria. This usually happens when your snake is suffering from stomatitis. The cobra becomes more lethargic, and they exhibit wheezing and open mouth breathing. You’ll also notice some excess mucus not only in their mouths but also in their nasal part as well. Internal and external parasites such as ticks can lead to respiratory infections as well as fungi and viruses. 

4) Cryptosporidiosis 

Speaking of parasites, one of the most common protozoan parasites that can dramatically affect your snakes healthy is the cryptosporidiosis. This is caused by the thickening of their stomach muscles. This health problem can be quite tricky to determine since signs and symptoms may be absent. What’s worse is that the parasite can be very contagious. It’s found in their stool and even on shed skins. This exposes other snakes or reptiles around. Most of the time, though, the signs are very observable, and it includes swelling of the mid-body portion of the snake. Cryptosporidiosis can also make your snake appear round and strangely larger. 

5) Dysecdysis

Shedding is normal for all snakes and some reptiles, but some snakes suffer from dysecdysis where they are having a hard time completing the shedding process. It may not appear like a serious matter but an incomplete shedding leads to infection and growth of bacteria or fungi. You must observe the condition of your cobras from time to time. If you think that they are having a hard time shedding, then it’s smart that you provide a moisture box for them. You can also spray some dew or mist the enclosure to help them shed. Keeping the moisture up is very helpful – just make sure that you don’t overdo it. 

6) Regurgitation

A common problem that captive snakes experience is regurgitation. This is when the snake is unable to properly digest their food or meal. If left untreated, the snake can die and can lead to a series of far more serious health problems. Apart from feeding ‘too large’ meals to your snake, improper handling and husbandry can lead to regurgitation. Always be wary of what you’re feeding your snake. It’s also advisable that you don’t handle them after eating – although it’s very dangerous to handle these types of cobras. What you can do is you can provide your cobras with a warm spot inside the enclosure. This should aid their digestion. 

7) Stress

Indian Cobra naturally loves to hide under a crevice or a hole. Even though they are fearless, they might experience stress when they see human beings. You want to make sure that you provide an area inside the enclosure where they can hide. Stress can lead to multiple problems such as loss of appetite and lethargy. To avoid this, you have to create a hide box inside the cage or terrarium. 

8) Dehydration

We’ll also include dehydration in our list since there are countless keepers out there who don’t provide water to their snake. Just because you don’t often see them drink doesn’t mean that they require less water. Always provide your cobras with clean water. Fill the dish or bowl from time to time. This is the key to preventing dehydration and the risk of infection. 

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Preventing Illnesses

The common health problems that were mentioned above can be easily prevented if you provide your cobras the right environment. Before you start keeping an Indian Cobra, you must do some research first or read books about their habitat and behaviors. Keep in mind that not all snakes are the same, and not all of them require the same level of care. Different snakes also need different enclosure setup. By providing the right environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, moisture, and water, there’s no doubt that you’ll prevent your cobra from acquiring life-threatening diseases. 

It’s also essential that you can control and regulate their environment. Be sure that you maintain proper heat and moisture. As mentioned earlier, too much moisture can lead to a skin infection. But you also have to be very careful not to make the enclosure dry since it can lead to dehydration. You are advised to buy a thermometer or hygrometer to keep track of the temperature and the humidity inside the enclosure. Always observe the behavior of your snake, and if you think that they are getting weak and acting strange, then it’s time for you to seek help from the professionals. 

Another excellent way of preventing illnesses or diseases is by making sure that you visit you consult your veterinarian. These professionals know how to provide the right care for your pet cobra. If you’re a beginner, then it’s recommended that you seek for tips and pieces of advice from keepers or breeders who have petted or handled Indian Cobra before. Also, when looking for a vet, be sure that you check his or her resume first. Find out more about their experience and background when it comes to caring and treating Indian Cobra. It’s recommended that you already know which clinic or professional you need to trust before your snake gets ill. 

Behavior 

Indian Cobras are known for its hood and venom. They raise their body about a third in length when they feel threatened. It also spread their hood and expands their ribs in the necks to appear larger. Another dangerous behavior that these cobras exhibit is that they spit venom at their prey or target. The Indian Cobra is considered as one of the most dangerous snakes in the wild. Although they are known for their distinctive hood and venomous nature, snake charmers are still using them for entertainment. Snake charmers using Indian Cobras are common in the streets of India. It’s a controversial practice since what these charmers do is they capture Indian Cobras from the wild and defanged them. They also ensure that these snakes don’t have any venoms anymore. Thus, the snake is deprived of its natural nature or instinct. 

You shouldn’t risk handling Indian Cobra since they will surely bite you if given a chance. Their strikes are fast and quick. They can be very aggressive, especially if they are protecting their eggs. You shouldn’t move or handle them. But in case of transporting or moving into other enclosure, then be sure that you use a clamp stick. Proper use of clamp stick requires practice, and you want to make sure that you know how to use it. Avoiding their bite is critical. 

Habitat

Considering your skill and knowledge level in handling venomous snakes is crucial before you decide to keep a cobra inside your home and property. If you think that you’re qualified and you’re well-equipped to pet these snakes, then the next thing that you need to do is to provide them a healthy and proper habitat. You must understand how these cobras live and where they are usually found. The Indian Cobra or Naja naja is native to southeastern India. They have a wide range of habitats, and they can thrive in forests, plains, wetlands, rocky terrain, rice paddy fields, even in human villages. To ensure that you provide them the best cage or enclosure, you have to consider these few things first. 

1) Housing

The enclosure of the cobra should be tall enough where the snake can stand with ease. You want to put them inside a terrarium where there is enough space for them to stand (about a third of their body). A cramped space can lead to several health problems such as stress, loss of appetite, and even weakness. Also, you have to ensure that the enclosure is safe for you to stand in during maintenance. Remember that you need to clean and feed the cobra. Space should be secure and is organized. This prevents any accidents from happening. One of the most commonly used enclosures for Indian Cobras are switch boxes and lockable hide box. 

2) Substrate and Water

Another essential item that you need to include inside the enclosure is the substrate. You can use substrates such as dirt although you can also see breeders or keepers who use concrete, gravel, or carpeting for Indian Cobras. You should also make sure that you provide the cobras clean quality water. Always change the tub regularly and keep the water free from bacteria or parasites. 

3) Light and Temperature

Indian Cobras are diurnal, and during the day, you should keep the temperature around 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When night time arrives, it’s then time for you to drop the temperature. Dropping it to 80 degrees is fine. Remember that the cobras can stay active both night and day. It’s also recommended that you set up a heat lamp since these snakes also love basking under the light. 

4) Feeding 

You can feed your Indian Cobras with different meals. Their most preferred foods are rodents and adult rats. You can also give them small rabbits from time to time. Bear in mind that these snakes have a very slow metabolism. You can feed them once a week only. But during the warm season, where they become more active, it’s recommended that you feed them twice a week. Also, during the cool season, be sure that you reduce the frequency of feeding. 

Also, make sure that you clean their waste inside the enclosure. Their stool or waste can invite bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Also, you have to be very careful when cleaning the enclosure since these snakes will not hesitate to strike and bite you. Even if you’ve been feeding them for 5 years already, Indian Cobras instinct is to defend itself. 

How to Care for Indian Cobras

1) Maintain a Healthy Environment 

Ensure that the enclosure is always clean. You should also provide the right amount of space for these cobras. Bacteria and viruses can infect your pet if you don’t provide them a clean environment. You should also make sure that you provide a clean substrate for them. You must also make sure that the enclosure is safe not only for your snake but also for you as well. You need to be able to move freely. Always be vigilant when it comes to approaching the enclosure. 

2) Give Them Privacy

These snakes love to hide in holes and burrows. It’s a good idea that you provide them a spot where they can hide and feel secure. Placing rocks and tree hollows inside the terrarium is recommended. Setting rocks for them to bask is also a good idea. 

3) Control Light and Temperature

Another important thing that you need to do is to make sure that you can control the temperature, light, and humidity inside the enclosure. You have to provide them an environment that mimics their natural habitat. Think about how they live in the wild, and you should be able to gain more information on how to set up the enclosure for your cobras. 

If you’re living in a very cold environment, then make sure that you buy heat pads or heaters that can provide warmth in the enclosure. Also, if you’re living in an extremely hot area, then make sure that you always check the humidity and be sure that you know how to properly drop the temperature to healthy levels. Also, be very careful when choosing a light since there are bulbs out there that provide too much heat. Too much heat can be very harmful to your snakes since it can lead to dehydration. 

4) Gain More Knowledge

Caring for Indian Cobras should not be taken lightly. These snakes are extremely venomous, and one bite from them can put your life in danger. This is why you must gather more information about them first and read more books about how to properly care for them. Keeping Indian Cobras is not recommended for beginners. You need to have the right skills and knowledge first. They are best for advanced breeders who have great experience in handling dangerous pets and animals. 

5) Join a Community

Joining a community where people gather and share their thoughts and ideas about Indian Cobras is also a brilliant idea. Thankfully, we have many friends online communities or websites where you can participate in the discussion. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Contact experts or veterinarians if you have inquiries about how to care for Indian Cobras and how to treat certain illnesses and diseases. 

6) Stay Safe

Handling or petting Indian Cobra can be very fun and exciting, but it can also be very dangerous. Think carefully and consider several factors first before you decide whether or not you should keep these snakes. Always remember that there are other snakes out there that are friendlier and don’t have any venom. However, if you think that your level of handling these snakes is already advance, then go for it. Just make sure that you always protect yourself and the people inside your home or property. 

Indian Cobras are best suited for zoo settings and if you notice, owners, make sure that their cages are properly closed. You need to make sure that you secure the doors of the cage. You don’t want an Indian Cobra roaming around your home or property. The best thing that you can do is to always double-check whether or not you’ve properly closed the terrarium or the enclosure. 

Where to get Indian Cobras?

Indian Cobras are common to Sri Lanka, Southern Nepal, Pakistan, and most especially India and Indian Subcontinents. Although there have been reports about the snake reaching Thailand and Southeast Asia. 

FAQ Section

What do these cobras look like?

They have very smooth scales, and their colors vary from creamy-white to brown to dark brown. There are also reports of black Indian Cobras found in the wild. Meanwhile, their bellies can either be color tan, brown, grey, reddish, and even yellow. Their most distinguishing mark is the half-ring patterns found on their hoods that look like spectacles. 

Are Indian Cobras endangered species?

No. They are not listed as endangered species. Although these snakes are being captured and used for entertainment purposes. Snake charmers defang and devenom them, which created a controversy. 

How long does Indian Cobra live?

Provided with the right environmental conditions, these cobras can reach more than 30 years. 

Are Indian Cobras venomous?

Yes. They are highly venomous and not recommended for keepers who are new to venomous snakes. There have been reports of countless human beings who were hospitalized and end up dead because of the bite. 

Is the venom of Indian Cobra curable?

With the right treatment, Indian Cobra venom is treatable. It’s considered a medical emergency though, and a polyvalent anti-venom is used to treat the bites. When bitten by this highly venomous snake, the patient must be rushed to the hospital as soon as possible. 

What’s the Indian Cobra’s favorite diet?

Rodents such as mice, rats, and rabbits are their favorites. Although you can also feed them with chicken, birds, and even eggs. 

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