The Egyptian cobra (Naja haje ), also known as "أورايوس" in Egyptian Arabic pronounced: Ouraeus (derived from the Ancient Greek word: οὐραῖος - Greek pronunciation: (listen)), is one of the most venomous snakes in North Africa, which has caused many snakebite incidents to humans. It averages roughly 1.4 metres (4.6 ft), with the longest recorded specimen measuring 2.59 metres (8.5 ft).
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Predators are animals that kill and eat other organisms, their prey. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often conceal...
Venom is a type of poison, especially one secreted by an animal. It is delivered in a bite, sting, or similar action. Venom has evolved in terrestr...
Dangerous animals demonstrate aggression and a propensity to attack or harass people or other animals without provocation.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The Egyptian cobra is a venomous snake found in Africa. It is one of the largest cobras on 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 cobras are terrestrial and solitary creatures. These snakes are mainly nocturnal, however, they may be seen basking in the sun 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.
The venom of the Egyptian cobra consists mainly in neurotoxins and cytotoxins. The average venom yield is 175 to 300 mg in a single bite, and the murine subcutaneous LD50 value is 1.15 mg/kg. However, Mohamed et al (1973) recorded LD50 (mice) values of 0.12 mg/kg and 0.25 mg/kg via Intraperitoneal injections of specimens from Egypt. Irwin et al (1970) studied the venom toxicity of a number of elapids, including Naja haje from different geographical locations. Venom potency ranged from 0.08 mg/kg to 1.7 mg/kg via intravenous injections on mice.Show More
The study also found that Egyptian cobra specimens from northern Africa, particularly those from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, to have significantly more potent venom than N. haje specimens found in the species' more southern and western geographical range, including Sudan and those from West Africa (Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali).
The venom affects the nervous system, stopping the nerve signals from being transmitted to the muscles and at later stages stopping those transmitted to the heart and lungs as well, causing death due to complete respiratory failure. Envenomation causes local pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, necrosis and variable non-specific effects which may include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions along with possible moderate to severe flaccid paralysis.
Unlike some other African cobras (for example the red spitting cobra), this species does not spit venom.Show Less
Females of this species lay between 8 and 33 eggs.
The main threats to the Egyptian cobra include habitat loss, persecution, poisoning through feeding on rodents, and collection for their venom. They are also caught for use in local markets by snake charmers in Egypt.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Egyptian cobra total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
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.
The Egyptian cobra garnered increased attention in Canada in the fall of 2006 when a pet cobra became loose and forced the evacuation of a house in Toronto for more than three hours when it was believed to have sought refuge in the home's walls. The owner was fined $17,000 and jailed for a year.