How Many Types Of Cobras Are There? Which Species Are Most Venomous?

Cobras are known for their characteristic hoods that they exhibit when threatened.
Cobras are known for their characteristic hoods that they exhibit when threatened.

Cobra is the common name used to refer to a group of venomous snakes known as elapids, most of which belong to the Naja genus. All cobras are venomous, and most are capable of producing a hood when threatened.

Here we mention the 10 most venomous cobras as a list. The LD50 value of the venom of these snakes is mentioned beside their names in brackets. The LD50 or the "Lethal dose, 50%" represents the dose of cobra venom required to claim the lives of the 50% of the members of the population being tested. Thus, lower the LD50 value, more potent is the venom.

Below, we also provide a table mentioning all cobra species living in the world today.

10. Equatorial Spitting Cobra (0.60 mg per kg)

The equatorial spitting cobra is a Southeast Asian species that is found in the countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore. These snakes are found at elevations of up to about 4,900 feet where they live in primary and secondary forests. Some cobras also live near human settlements. The equatorial spitting cobra feeds mainly on rodents but occasionally also feeds on other snakes, small mammals, and lizards

The equatorial spitting cobra is one of the most venomous cobras in the world. When threatened, they will readily spit venom or bite. The venom of this cobra is a toxic cocktail of neurotoxins, cytotoxins, and cardiotoxins that can lead to the victim’s death if left untreated.

9. Monocled Cobra (0.47 mg per kg)

The monocled cobra is widespread across Southeast and South Asia. These cobras can adapt to a wide array of habitats. The monocled cobras are terrestrial snakes that feed on small mammals, snakes, amphibians, and other reptiles.

The snakes, when threatened, get ready to strike to defend themselves. The venom of the monocled cobra is highly poisonous and is a complex mixture of neurotoxins, cardiotoxins, and myotoxins.

8. Cape Cobra (0.37 mg per kg)

Cape cobra is a cobra that is endemic to southern Africa where it lives in a wide variety of habitats like savanna, bushveld, desert, and semi-desert areas. The snake has a wide prey base and hunts during the day.

The dangerous venom of the cape cobra coupled with its habit of visiting human homes makes it one of Africa’s most feared snakes. The venom has both neurotoxic and cytotoxic components, and a powerful bite might result in death if not immediately treated.

7. Indian Cobra (0.29 mg per kg)

One of the most venomous snakes living in the Indian subcontinent, the Indian cobra is a member of the “big four” which are the four species of snakes responsible for most snakebites on humans in India. However, the Indian cobra, despite its fierce reputation, is highly revered by Hindus and even worshiped during the Hindu festival of Nag Panchami. The snake is found in both dense and open forests, rocky terrains, wetlands, crop fields, and even human settlements.

The Indian cobra’s bite delivers a powerful venom that has both neurotoxic and cytotoxic components. The venom has the ability to paralyze muscles and trigger death if left untreated.

6. Chinese Cobra (0.28 mg per kg)

The Chinese cobra is a venomous elapid that lives in southern China. Many snakebite cases related to this snake have been recorded in China and neighboring countries. The Chinese cobra inhabits grasslands, mangroves, woodlands, and shrublands within its range. The species is also found in elevations ranging from lowlands to elevations of up to 6,600 feet. The snake has a wide prey base that includes rodents, amphibians, smaller reptiles, and birds.

The Chinese cobra, when confronted, can be highly aggressive and will strike if the threat prevails. Neurotoxins and cytotoxins are the main components of the Chinese cobra venom. A powerful bite can inject enough venom to cause death in an adult human.

5. Indochinese Spitting Cobra (0.25 mg per kg)

The Indochinese spitting cobra is the fifth most venomous cobra species that is found in Southeast Asia including Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. The snakes inhabit a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, plains, hills, and lowlands.

The Indochinese spitting cobra exhibits a highly variable behavior at different times of the day. It is timid during the daytime and will seek immediate shelter when threatened. However, at night, if the snake is threatened, it is most likely the snake will strike. The snake first spits venom at its victim and if further threatened bites the victim. The venom of this spitting cobra is a potent combination of powerful neurotoxin and cytotoxin. Death might occur in adult humans left untreated after the bite due to muscle paralysis and asphyxiation.

4. Forest Cobra (0.225 mg per kg)

The forest cobra is an elapid that lives in Africa, mainly in the western and central parts of the continent. Despite its name, the cobra can inhabit a wide range of environments including moist savanna habitats, lowland forests as well as drier ecoregions. The diet of the forest cobra is varied and includes insects, small mammals, and reptiles.

The forest cobra is a very dangerous species. It is always on high alert and exhibits a nervous behavior. The forest cobra bite is life-threatening in nature due to the potent neurotoxic nature of the bite. Since the snake injects a significant volume of venom, death by envenomation can occur within 30 to 120 minutes.

3. Samar Cobra (0.21 mg per kg)

The Samar cobra is an extremely venomous spitting cobra species that is native to the Mindanao and Visayas island groups of the Philippines. The habitat of this species ranges from tropical plains to mountainous jungles. The snake feeds mainly on rodents and less frequently on reptiles and frogs.

The Samar cobra produces a deadly neurotoxic venom that also has cytotoxic properties. Venomous bites by this cobra trigger extensive tissue necrosis and death by respiratory failure. The cobra is known for its nervous behavior and sprays venom at the target when threatened. If venom enters the eye of the cobra’s victim, it could result in permanent blindness if not flushed out in time.

2. Philippine Cobra (0.14 mg per kg)

The Philippine cobra is a highly venomous elapid that is native to the northern regions of the Philippines. The spitting cobra lives in a wide variety of habitats including low-lying plains, grasslands, dense jungles, crop fields, and also human settlements. It prefers to live near water sources and is an excellent swimmer. The Philippine cobra mainly feeds on small rodents and also frogs.

The venom of these snakes is a pure and potent postsynaptic neurotoxin. It can trigger death by respiratory failure. The snakes can spit their venom at targets up to 9.8 feet away.

1. Caspian Cobra (0.10 mg per kg)

The Caspian cobra is the most venomous species of cobra in the world and occurs in the Transcaspian region. Its range thus covers the countries of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and parts of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. The Caspian cobra inhabits rocky, stony, and semiarid foothills of mountains in its range and lives at elevations of up to 3,000 meters. The cobra is an excellent swimmer and climber. Small mammals, birds, and amphibians are the prey of these venomous elapids.

The Caspian cobra is a highly aggressive species and is infamous for its bad temper. When threatened, the cobra will spread its hood, sway and hiss and strike repeatedly. The Caspian cobra’s venom can trigger severe neurotoxicity, pain, and swelling following a bite. Death ensues if left untreated and the untreated mortality rate is 70 to 75%, the highest among all species of cobras. In Central Asia, the Caspian cobra is responsible for a significant number of snake bite-related deaths.

How Many Types Of Cobras Are There And Which Species Are Most Venomous?

RankSpeciesCommon nameGeographic range
1N. anchietaeAnchieta's cobra (Angolan Cobra)Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, eastern Zimbabwe
2N. annulataBanded water cobraCameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, and the province of Cabinda in Angola
3N. annuliferaSnouted cobraBotswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe
4†N. antiquaMoroccan cobraMiocene-aged strata of Morocco
5N. arabicaArabian cobraOman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
6N. asheiAshe's spitting cobra (giant spitting cobra)Southern Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, eastern Uganda
7N. atraChinese cobraSouthern China, northern Laos, Taiwan, northern Vietnam
8N. christyiCongo water cobraDemocratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, and in the province of Cabinda in Angola
9N. hajeEgyptian cobraTanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt
10†N. ibericaSpanish cobraMiocene-aged strata of Spain
11N. kaouthiaMonocled cobraBangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, southern China, eastern India, Laos, northwestern Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, southeastern Tibet, Vietnam
12N. katiensisMali cobra (Katian spitting cobra)Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Gambia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo
13N. mandalayensisMandalay spitting cobra (Burmese spitting cobra)Burma
14N. melanoleucaForest cobraAngola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tom'e, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
15N. mossambicaMozambique spitting cobraExtreme southeastern Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, northeastern Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania (including Pemba Island), Zambia, Zimbabwe
16N. multifasciataBurrowing cobraCameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Gabon
17N. najaIndian cobra (spectacled cobra)Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
18N. nigricinctaZebra spitting cobraAngola, Namibia, South Africa
19N. nigricollisBlack-necked spitting cobraAngola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (except in the center), Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia
20N. niveaCape cobra (yellow cobra)Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa
21N. nubiaeNubian spitting cobraChad, Egypt, Eritrea, Niger, Sudan
22N. oxianaCaspian cobraAfghanistan, northwest India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
23N. pallidaRed spitting cobraDjibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania
24N. philippinensisPhilippine cobraPhilippines (Luzon, Mindoro)
25†N. romani†European cobraMiocene-aged strata of France, Germany, Austria, Romania, and Ukraine
26N. sagittiferaAndaman cobraIndia (Andaman Islands)
27N. samarensisSamar cobraPhilippines (Mindanao, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Camiguin)
28N. senegalensisSenegalese cobraBenin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal
29N. siamensisIndochinese spitting cobraCambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
30N. sputatrixJavan spitting cobraIndonesia (Java, Lesser Sunda Islands, East Timor)
31N. sumatranaEquatorial spitting cobraBrunei, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo, Bangka, Belitung), Malaysia, Philippines (Palawan), southern Thailand, Singapore

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