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article imageThe Top Of The Food Chain: Cobras

By KJ Mullins     Jul 23, 2007 in Science
They are mysterious and beautiful. Moving with a graceful speed cobras have been the base of fables and horror stories. Many believe it was in fact the snake Cleopatra used to commit suicide.
According to the Sandiego Zoo, "Elephants will run away if a cobra raises up in their path. They are the masters of the animal world. A single bite can fall the most mighty. "
The cobra always comes dressed for dinner with their hoods. They have shorter fangs than many other venomous snakes. It gives them little worry though, their bite is much worse than their hiss.
Wikipedia says, "They kill their prey by injecting a neurotoxin through their hollow fangs. The neurotoxin blocks the synaptic communication between the victim's neurons and muscles, thus stopping movement and muscle control."
They have a long life. Twenty to thirty years they slither along the ground seeking prey. Humans are not their first pick though considering they don't like to kill what they can't ingest.
They survive. Even though their numbers have been reduced there is no fear of endangerment of the species. Big, bad and lethal they move where they want.
Rattlesnakes have their rattles. Cobras don't need them, all they have to do is hiss. There is no chance that any other animal mistakes what their hiss means. If they do they have crossed the line and are delivered a fateful bite. After that there are no tales to tell. Humans have a small edge with anti venom. As long as medical treatment is started quick enough a human may survive. That's not a given.
The king cobra is huge. It can grow to 18.5 feet. Not something you want to meet on a dark alley. Raised up it can be taller than the average man. Only a fool would challenge it. Or a mongoose. That is their one natural enemy.
Several cobras have the nasty habit of spraying their venom. Zookeepers have to wear protective eye gear when they clean their cages, otherwise face blindness. They also bite since their spray doesn't kill, only blinds and burns. Pretty nifty though in taking out a larger opponent.
They have a scientific name of course, like all animals that roam the planet. Members of the Elapidae family their closest relatives are taipans, coral snakes, and mambas. Not a nice bunch to have in your family tree.
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