Cobras in Southeast Asia


The Cobra

Real Cobras (unlike similar looking kinds as the king cobras, which is no real cobra under a scientific view) appear in 20 different kinds and reach a length between 1,60 meters and 2,30 meters. What they have in common with the 'not real' ones is the capability to spread their neck hoodlike out, presenting a remarkable pattern on their skin.


'Cobra' by Asienreisender

A smaller cobra, not yet fully grown up. Image by Asienreisender, 2005 in Songhkla, Thailand

Cobras live on the ground and hide in holes of rats, mice etc. or in hollow trees, rock cracks and so on. They are usually day active and can live in almost any habitats, including rice fields and settlements, where they adapt to gloaming or nocturnal activities.

They feed from birds, lizards and other amphibies, other snakes and even small to middlesized mammals.

A Snake Charmer

'A Snake Charmer in Delhi, India' by Asienreisender

A snake charmer in Delhi, India. Curiously, the snakes are not able to hear the sound, but follow the movements of the flute. The music is merely part of the show for the audience. The snakes teeth are, probably, removed. Image by Asienreisender, 1997

Under thread they normally try to escape; if this is impossible they errect and spread their neck, focus on their enemy and waver with their head to and fro, frizzling. Suddenly they might attack out of this position.

Their poison affects the lungs and can cause a heart cessation. The victim remains lamed or dies.

Over the years I encountered many cobras in Southeast Asia and never had a problem. They always went off. Most of the time I saw them when they were crossing a road. In this case they are exposed and for a short time well to watch. Approaching with a motorbike makes them sometimes erecting and threatening. When stopping and remaining calm, they quickly continue their way and nothing happens.

One time in Kampot, walking on narrow paths over the rice paddies, some dogs were barking at me. Suddenly a cobra approached closely in front of me and crossed my way (less than a meter). Immediately I stopped and made a step backwards. However, the cobra didn't even seem to notice me, went her way through a fence and disappeared into the green. The stupid dogs therefore didn't notice the cobra and were only fixed on me.

Monocled Cobras

Photocomposition 'Monocled Cobras' by Asienreisender

There are two 'monocled cobras' in Snake House, a restaurant with an attached private zoo in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. One of the snakes is an albino. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 2014, 2015

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Published in May/June 2011


Last update on May 20th, 2015