Indian Cobra

The Indian cobra, also called the Asian cobra, binocellate cobra, or spectacled cobra, is one of India’s four venomous snakes with the highest fatality rates, which are collectively known as the “Big Four”. These diurnal species help the ecosystem by controlling agricultural pests and maintaining the prey species’ balance.

The Hindu god Shiva is always depicted with an Indian cobra coiling around his neck. It symbolizes his mastery over the illusions of the world or “Maya”.

Scientific Classifications

  • Suborder:Serpentes
  • Family:Elapidae
  • Genus:Naja
  • Species:N. naja

Conservation Status

Not EvaluatedNE

Not Evaluated

Data DeficientDD

Data Deficient

Least ConcernLC

Least Concern

Near ThreatenedNT

Near Threatened





Critically EndangeredCR

Critically Endangered

Extinct in the wildEW

Extinct in the wild




Indian Cobra Snake


The average length of an Indian cobra can reach up to 72-87 inches (6-7.25ft.), and have a weight of 4.5-6.5 lbs (2-3 kg).

Spectacled Cobra

Color and Appearance

These snakes have long, heavy bodies with colors ranging from brown to black, covered in yellow and white markings, which sometimes form bands across them. The underside of their bodies is light colored, white being typical. And their smooth dorsal scales are strongly oblique.

Are they Dangerous

Indian Cobra Hood

The Indian cobra is venomous and extremely dangerous. When threatened, they assume a defensive posture, by raising and spreading out their hoods; they do so by expanding the ribs in their necks, which are very flexible.

If the threat does not back down, they may spit venom through their teeth at the enemy by squeezing their venom gland, which can travel up to 6.5 feet.

Indian Cobra Image

In severe cases, the victims may go into cardiac arrest and undergo respiratory failure. Their venom has an LD50 value of 0.28 mg/kg, yielding up to 150.0 – 600.0 mg per bite, capable of killing up to 10 people. The fatality rate of these snake bites is high, killing about 15,000 people per year. The effects of its venom can be felt roughly within one to four hours. One of the most affected countries is India.

Indian Cobra Snake At a Glance


The distribution of the Indian cobra ranges across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Asian Cobra
Indian Cobra Habitat


They prefer a wide range of habitats. These cobras inhabit agricultural lands like rice paddy fields and wheat crops, dense as well as open forests, rocky terrains, wetlands, and sometimes in heavily populated urban and suburban areas.


The average lifespan of an Indian cobra ranges from 17-23 years in the wild and it is known to have lived up to 30 years in captivity.

Naja naja


This snake falls prey to large birds of prey like eagles and different species of mongoose.


These snakes are carnivores. Their diet consists of small birds, frogs, rodents, lizards, and other reptiles, including other snakes. They sometimes also consume birds’ eggs.

They hunt by injecting the prey with their venom and wait until they stop moving or die, then swallow it whole.

Indian Cobra Baby
Indian Cobra Eggs


The breeding season of this oviparous species starts around April and lasts through July. Females lay between 12-20 eggs in rat holes, termite mounds other similar shelters hidden on the ground. A female cobra guards its eggs fiercely and only leaves its nest to feed itself. After about two months of incubation, hatchlings emerge and can immediately hunt and deliver venom.

Similar Species

Oriental Ratsnake 

The Oriental ratsnake is a non-venomous species. This diurnal, land-dwelling snake is native to Asia.

Banded Racer 

The banded racer is a non-venomous snake in the colubrid family. It inhabits Bangladesh, India (except in Kashmir, North Bengal, and Tamil Nadu), Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Indian Smooth Snake 

The Indian smooth snake is a rare and harmless species only found in India.

Monocled Cobra 

The monocled cobra is a venomous snake species. They are crepuscular and terrestrial, found in Southeast Asia.


Q: What is an adaptation of the Indian Cobra?

Ans: The patterns on its body create an optical illusion acting as an excellent camouflage making it hard for the predators to spot them in their natural habitat.

Q: What is the difference between Chinese cobra and Indian cobra?

Ans: Indian cobras are longer than Chinese cobras.


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