13 Types of Cobra Snakes

They’re one of the world’s most fear-inducing animals, each one with a separate diet, habitat, and range of abilities. These unique snakes can be found on two of the world’s biggest continents. 

In today’s article, we’ll be listing down all the types of cobra snakes.

  • King Cobras
  • Caspian Cobras
  • Philippine Cobras
  • Samar Cobras
  • Forest Cobras
  • Indochinese Spitting Cobras
  • Chinese Cobras
  • Indian Cobras
  • Cape Cobras
  • Monocled Cobras
  • Equatorial Spitting Cobras
  • Goldie’s Tree Cobras
  • Desert Cobras

1. King Cobras

Scientific name: Ophiophagus hannah

The longest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra, is also one of the most venomous snakes in the world. The longest recorded specimen was almost 20 feet long, and since they’re built like tanks, they’re somewhat similar to constrictors.

King cobras are called that for several reasons – some sources claim it derives from their habit of eating other snakes (which makes king cobras the rulers of snakes), while others call it that because of their size and formidability.

These impressive beasts are apex predators in their environment and they’re rarely disturbed by other animals, with the tiger being one of the few animals strong enough to attack a king cobra.

In the wild, they’ll easily kill and eat any snake, barring very long pythons. Sometimes, they’ll even use their bodies to constrict prey on top of killing it with venom.

Their venom is incredibly potent, but they’re not aggressive towards humans unless provoked. There are currently four types of king cobra snakes (four different lineages) that are still waiting for official approval from the international scientific community.

2. Caspian Cobras

Scientific name: Naja oxiana

These types of cobra snakes in Asia are endemic to their continent, and they were considered to be a subspecies of Indian cobras until recently! Just like all other cobras, it avoids people, but it will strike back when cornered.

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This cobra mostly feeds on small mammals and it’s never too far away from water, using it as its hunting grounds. On top of that, they’re great climbers and swimmers, so no terrain is difficult for them.

Even though it isn’t aggressive unless provoked, it has a very high mortality rate, as the Caspian cobra is considered to be the most venomous of all the cobras.

3. Philippine Cobras

Scientific name: Naja philippinensis

This type of cobra in the Philippines is a highly venomous spitting cobra, making it very dangerous. There are only a few spitting cobras in the world, and these unique animals have developed the ability to squirt venom out of their mouths.

If it comes in contact with eyes or open wounds, it can cause exhaustive damage and even blindness. They mostly use this ability for defending themselves from predators, as it’s not useful for hunting. 

Interestingly, Philippine cobras are common prey for king cobras!

4. Samar Cobras

Scientific name: Naja samarensis

Another group of spitting cobras, this species is common in the southern Philippine islands, so it doesn’t share habitat with Philippine cobras. 

Unfortunately, they often clash with people as they follow their prey – small birds and rodents.

This usually leads to either a bitten person or a dead snake. These cobras are easy to recognize as their body is a combination of black and yellow or black and green.

5. Forest Cobras

Scientific name: Naja melanoleuca

Forest cobras are a type of cobra snakes in Africa and they’re considered a highly dangerous snake. 

Although they’re not as nearly as aggressive as some other venomous snakes, their venom is highly potent and they will attack if threatened.

These animals are also great swimmers and they’re considered to be semi-aquatic snakes, so crossing wet territory isn’t a problem for them. 

Forest cobras are found in Central and West Africa, and they’re easily recognized by their black and white pattern.

6. Indochinese Spitting Cobras

Scientific name: Naja siamensis

Found in Southeast Asia, these nocturnal snakes have daily mood swings. They’re more aggressive during the night, and more timid during the day. Just like all other cobras, they’ll spread their hood and try to intimidate the predator.

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Even though its venom is dangerous, this animal doesn’t cause many deaths. Most people killed by the venom live in rural areas and don’t have access to antivenin.

What’s scary about this snake is the way it bites. It doesn’t just inject venom and let go. Instead, it holds onto the bitten flesh and chews on it until forced away.

7. Chinese Cobras

Scientific name: Naja atra

This snake is mostly black, with a white bottom, and it can only be found in southern China and a few neighboring islands. It mostly feeds on small rodents, amphibians, and reptiles (including other snakes).

Interestingly, this type of cobra snake in China isn’t a spitting cobra, but it’s somehow capable of ejecting venom up to 6 feet. Despite their prevalence in China, the mortality rate is only 15% because of antivenom.

8. Indian Cobras

Scientific name: Naja naja

The Indian cobra is possibly the most well-known type of cobra snake, as it’s a common motif in Indian mythology, not to mention that they’re often used for snake “charming”. This type of cobra snake in India is now protected.

Their importance is felt in Hinduism, as they’re considered deities, and they’re greatly respected in Indian culture. 

They’re especially popular in snake charming shows (with their venom usually milked beforehand). Interestingly, they don’t actually follow the flutist’s playing, but the movements of the flute and the vibrations caused by foot tapping.

9. Cape Cobras

Scientific name: Naja nivea

This type of cobra snake in South Africa is also called the yellow cobra, although their coloration ranges from brown to yellow, sometimes even black. 

They’re not afraid of entering human settlements to escape the heat, which often leads to conflict.

They’re very calm in comparison to other cobras, but they’ll still strike if threatened. 

Even though their venom is potent, because of their timid nature, they can’t even compare to black mambas when it comes to how dangerous they really are.

10. Monocled Cobras

Scientific name: Naja kaouthia

This is a very specific type of cobra and most people find it easy to recognize because of the O-shaped hood pattern on the back of their hood. 

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This makes it look like they have an eye on their back, which comes in handy when dealing with predators.

They mostly feed on rodents, though, and they’re rarely threatened. When under threat, these snakes prefer to run, rather than fight. 

Some of them have developed the ability of spitting venom, although they’re typically not spitting cobras.

11. Equatorial Spitting Cobras

Scientific name: Naja sumatrana

These spitting cobras are either completely black or completely yellow with no discolorations, and they’re often found in Southeast Asia. They’re not aggressive, but they’ll readily spit venom when approached.

Even though they’re not that dangerous for humans because they mostly stay away from us (and most people prefer to stay away from them), their venom is highly potent. 

This is bad news for rodents and frogs, their primary sources of food, as well as lizards and other snakes.

As you might have noticed by now, most types of cobra snakes eat other snakes.

12. Goldie’s Tree Cobras

Scientific name: Pseudohaje goldii

Growing up to ten feet in length, Goldie’s tree cobra is one of the longest venomous snakes in the world, and it’s usually glossy black with a spiky tail, making it a good climber. 

They have great eyesight and spend most of their time in trees.

These snakes mainly feed on small animals and they’re rarely seen by humans. However, their venom is highly potent and there’s no antivenin. On top of that, they have a reputation for being aggressive and striking easily.

13. Desert Cobras

Scientific name: Walterinnesia aegyptia

Found in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Jordan – this species is mostly nocturnal and it often adds constriction to envenomation. 

They mostly feed on lizards and other small animals, while they’re one of the few scavenger snakes ready to eat carcasses of dead snakes.

These snakes are cobras that live in the desert, but they’re also found in rocky terrain and agricultural settlements. Even though they sometimes get close to people, they’re not aggressive and will always try to run before striking.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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