The Egyptian Cobra
Species: Naja haje.
The Egyptian cobra, as its name suggests, is native to the north-east of Africa, including Egypt and to the eastern part of the continent (the Arabian peninsula). It can be found in deserts and semi-savannahs as well as in the mountains. It can live near villages and farm fields.
Most of the time this snake spends on the ground, but sometimes it climbs trees or swims.
The Egyptian cobra chooses areas with ruins, bushes or a lot of stones. It also likes termite nests.
The Egyptian cobra ranges from 1 to 2 meters in size.
It is one-colored: from light yellow to dark brown, almost black. The belly is light yellow or whitish. It is a medium thick snake with glossy scales and small eyes. On the lower side of the neck the cobra has wide dark bands that are distinct when the snake takes a threatening posture. All species of cobras have similar threatening postures but the Egyptian cobra has a much narrower hood than the Indian one.
It is a very skittish snake. It attacks only when it tries to defend itself.
It is a diurnal species which is active at daytime and in the evening. It is venomous and dangerous for people.
The Egyptian cobra spends most of the time on the ground, but sometimes it swims or climbs trees.
You should keep Egyptian cobras alone because conflicts leading to fatal outcome can occur.
The Egyptian cobra needs a large horizontal tank about 100х80х60 cm in size. The enclosure should have a hiding place for the snake that can be safely closed from outside of the enclosure: it will guarantee the safety of the person who will be cleaning the enclosure. It is bet to have a tank with two separate sections. For substrate you can use coconut husks, bark or moss. The snake will also need a bowl with fresh clean water (has to be changed daily).
The ambient temperature in the enclosure should be in the range of 20 – 22°C at night and 29 – 32°C at daytime. It is best to use the heat pad or the heat cord.
These snakes need a high level of humidity, about 60- 80%, so you will have to mist daily.
The Indian cobra needs about 10-12 hours of light a day.
In the wild the Egyptian cobra normally hunts at night or in the evening. Its main menu consists of amphibians, rodents, birds and eggs, lizards and other snakes.
In captivity cobras eat mice and rodents. The best treat for them are toads. Even sick snakes won’t reject them. You will have to add to the food vitamins and mineral supplements.
The Egyptian cobra is very venomous, it is strongly advised not to keep it at home. Special skills and equipment are needed to handle such a dangerous snake.
Cobra’s venom contains strong toxins that affect the peripheral nervous system. But the venom doesn’t affect the brain and the victim can feel breathing stop. About half an hour later the heart stops.
The Egyptian cobra feels well in captivity, it takes food straight away and prefers small birds and mice.
In winter the snake normally becomes lethargic and rejects food.
If the snake refuses to eat, it can be caused by stress, unsuitable food, or it can happen that the snake just is not hungry. You should not try and force the food into the snake: they can live without food for a long time without any damage for their health. You should only start worrying if your snake doesn’t eat for several months. Then you need to analyze its living conditions and the menu prior to this situation. You should never try to force-feed the Egyptian cobra, it is very dangerous.
The snake can vomit because of stress, illness or if the prey was too big. Also it can vomit if it was fed during shedding or if the temperature in its enclosure is not suitable. After vomiting you mustn’t feed the snake for 7-10 days, and then you can offer it food taking into account the previous mistakes.
Shedding is not a disease, it is a necessary step in the snake’s growth. Its eyes get milky, their color grows paler and the skin starts coming off. During this time you should be extra careful about the humidity and clean water in the enclosure.
Mites are small parasites that live on the snake’s skin. They stick on the snake’s body between the scales and suck its blood. This can make the snake lethargic and it can turn down the food. To get rid of mites you need to use the weak solution of the same medicine which is used against ticks on cats and dogs. You will also have to disinfect the whole enclosure.
Respiratory diseases are usually caused by potentially pathogenic bacteria if the immune system of the snake doesn’t function properly either due to a stress or to unsuitable living conditions. The symptoms include gasping, open mouth, runny nose. These diseases are treated by the injections of antibiotic called Baytril.
The Egyptian cobra is an egg-laying species. It hardly ever breeds in captivity.
A female lays 8-20 eggs in one clutch. The incubation period lasts for about 60 days. The hatchlings are about 20-35 cm long. 7-12 days after the birth young cobras shed and after this they start eating pink mice.
Average life span is up to 15 years.