Chinese Cobra

Chinese Cobra

Taiwan cobra

Naja atra
Population size
Life Span
12 yrs
1.2-2 m

The Chinese cobra is one of the most prevalent venomous snakes in China and Taiwan, which has caused many snakebite incidents to humans. It is iridescent black with a number of distant transversal double lines of a yellow color. The abdominal surface is pearl or slaty colored. The dorsal color of the Chinese cobra is usually brown, grey, or black, with or without narrow, light transverse lines at irregular intervals which are especially prominent in juveniles. The upper head is usually the same color as the tail and dorsal part of the body, while the sides of the head are lighter in color. Specimens with other colors on their dorsal surface, such as white, yellow, or brown do occur. There may be irregular or scattered crosslines of white to light gray along the upper body and a spectacle marking on the hood. The ventral head and neck are white to light gray or light orange in color. There is some variation in the color of the ventral body and tail: it could be white to gray, dark gray mottled with white, or blackish. This is a heavy-bodied snake, the body is slightly flattened, and may be significantly flattened when threatened, and it has a short tail. The nostrils of this species are large and prominent. The eyes are medium-sized and the iris is a dark dirty yellow dappled with gray-black or blue-black and the pupil is round and jet black.


Chinese cobras are found in southeastern China (including the provinces of Sichuan, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Zhejiang, and the Island province of Hainan), Hong Kong, northern Laos, northern Vietnam, and Taiwan. These snakes typically occur in woodlands, shrublands, grasslands, and mangroves. They are adaptable to a wide range of terrain including grassland plains, jungle, open fields, and even heavily populated regions. Chinese cobras can be found in rice paddy fields in maritime lowlands to various types of montane forests, though they avoid dark forests with a closed canopy. In the primary monsoon season and rain forests, they inhabit clearings and riverbanks.

Chinese Cobra habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Chinese cobras are active during both the day and night. They live on their own and usually hide under leaves, sticks, and rocks. Hunting is typically done during all daylight periods and as late as 2-3 hours after sunset from March to October. Chinese cobras are very alert; they are seldom cornered, but if confronted will raise the forebody and spread their hood and strike readily if necessary. Adults can be very aggressive, but younger individuals tend to be more aggressive as they are more nervous about the things surrounding them. These highly venomous snakes usually escape avoiding confrontation with humans. Although this is not a spitting cobra, some individuals (mostly specimens from Guizhou Province) are capable of ejecting venom towards a threat within a distance of 2 meters (6.6 ft).

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Chinese cobras are carnivores and have a widely varied diet. They mainly prey on rodents, frogs, toads, fish, and other snakes. Juveniles eat mostly amphibians, whereas adults usually prefer reptiles and mammals. However, during amphibian breeding periods, adult cobras eat mostly frogs or toads.

Mating Habits

March-May in Vietnam
2 months
6-23 eggs

Chinese cobras are oviparous or egg-laying snakes. Mating and egg-laying periods are very extended. In the mountains of the western Tonkin region of Vietnam, their breeding season occurs in the months of March through May. Females typically lay 6 to 23 eggs sometime between May to the end of July and guard them during the incubation period which lasts for 2 months.


Population threats

Despite being common throughout its native range, populations of the Chinese cobra are decline mainly due to habitat loss, heavy hunting, and pollution.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Chinese cobra total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.


1. Chinese Cobra on Wikipedia -
2. Chinese Cobra on The IUCN Red List site -

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