Egyptian Cobra

Egyptian Cobra

Naja haje
Population size
Life Span
20 yrs
1-2 m

The Egyptian cobra is a venomous snake found in Africa. It is one of the largest cobras of the African continent. The head of this snake is large and depressed and slightly distinct from the neck. The neck has long cervical ribs capable of expanding to form a hood, like all other cobras. The snout of the Egyptian cobra is moderately broad and rounded. The body is cylindrical and stout with a long tail. The most recognizable characteristics of this species are its head and hood. The color is highly variable, but most specimens are some shade of brown, often with lighter or darker mottling, and often a "tear-drop" mark below the eye. Some are more copper-red or grey-brown in color. Egyptian cobras from northwestern Africa (Morocco, Western Sahara) are almost entirely black. The ventral side is mostly a creamy white, yellow-brown, grayish, blue-grey, dark brown or black in coloration, often with dark spots.


Egyptian cobras range across most of North Africa north of the Sahara, across West Africa to the south of the Sahara, south to the Congo basin and east to Kenya and Tanzania. They live in a wide variety of habitats like steppes, dry to moist savannas, arid semi-desert regions with some water and vegetation. These snakes are frequently found near water. They are also found in agricultural fields and scrub vegetation. Egyptian cobras also occur near human settlements where they often enter houses. They are attracted to villages by rodent pests (rats) and domestic chickens. There are also notes of Egyptian cobras swimming in the Mediterranean sea.

Egyptian Cobra habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Egyptian cobras are terrestrial and solitary creatures. These snakes are mainly nocturnal, however, they may be seen basking in the sun at times in the early morning. They make their shelters in abandoned animal burrows, termite mounds or rock outcrops. Egyptian cobras are active foragers sometimes entering human habitations, especially when hunting domestic fowl. Like other cobra species, they generally try to escape when approached, at least for a few meters, but if threatened they assume the typical upright posture with the hood expanded, and strike.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Egyptian cobras are carnivorous reptiles. They prefer to eat toads, but will also prey on small mammals, birds, eggs, lizards and other snakes.

Mating Habits

Little is known about the mating habits in Egyptian cobras.


Population threats

Little information is known if this species faces any major threats.

Ecological niche

Egyptian cobras are important for their ecosystem as they help to maintain the balance of prey species and control agricultural pests such as rats and mice.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Egyptian cobra was first described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
  • The specific name the Egyptian cobra "haje" is the translation from the Arabic word hayya (حية) which literally means "snake".
  • Most ancient sources say that Cleopatra and her two attendants committed suicide by being bitten by an aspis, which translates into English as "asp". The snake was reportedly smuggled into her room in a basket of figs. This "aspis" was likely to be the Egyptian cobra.


1. Egyptian Cobra on Wikipedia -

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