The Indian cobra is a very poisonous snake found in the sub-continent. It lives not only in India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and parts of Afghanistan.
Cobras are easy to recognize because when they are angry or scared, they raise themselves up and blow out their ribs to form a ‘hood’. There is a ‘V’ pattern on the Indian cobra’s hood, something like a pair of spectacles, because of which it is also known as the ‘spectacled cobra’.
Cobras feed mainly on rats and other rodents. They are found in fields and forests. They live in termite mounds, burrows of small animals, in holes in trees and cracks in rocks. They sometimes come to places where people live, to catch mice and rats.
Adult Indian cobras are 4 feet to 7 feet long. They are extremely fast. They attack humans only if they feel threatened or scared. If people bitten by cobras are treated quickly and correctly, they can be saved.
In Hinduism, the cobra is associated with Lord Shiva. It is also worshipped in its own right.
Snake-charmers use cobras because the sight of these reptiles with raised hoods creates awe. The cobras seem to sway to the tunes of the snake-charmers’ flutes, but actually they are deaf. They only follow the movement of the snake-charmers’ flutes and react to the vibrations caused by the tapping of the snake-charmers’ feet.
There are other types of cobras too, like the monocled cobra, which has an ‘O’ instead of the ‘V’ mark, and the Egyptian cobra, which are found in several places besides India.
There are many stories about the cobra. Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling is a famous one. See how many more you can find.