Monocled Cobras

[Last Updated: 14 July 2023]

Naja kaouthia – Monocled Cobra

The monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out from under your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. I heard the story direct from a woman who had this happen to her husband. Monocled Cobras are nearly everywhere across Thailand.

I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.

I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas who was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself.

These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during the daytime but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.

Monocled Cobra - Naja kaouthia release in Southern Thailand.
Releasing a monocled cobra at a mountain location after it was found in a populated area of a village in Thailand. Screengrab from one of my videos. ©

Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.

I’ve worked with two hatchling monocled cobras, and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.

If you are bitten by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, or a scrape, get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your bloodstream for biological chaos to ensue.

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake. ©

Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or eye-type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. Most are very close to black.

Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)

Length: Typical maximum length of about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters long, a giant. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: Neurotoxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!

Recently a friend and I found a 1.5-meter-long N. kaouthia on a dirt road near where we were herping. It was nearly paralyzed but gaped its mouth when touched on the head with a snake hook. The body didn’t move. We think it was just bitten by either a krait, or a King Cobra – both of which prey on this species. There was one visible bite mark on the side of the body and nothing else. I’m guessing King Cobra.

Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually, near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. I’ve seen them most often in residential areas bordering forests, or near the ocean. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. The lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.
Small monocled cobra, is already capable of deadly bites. ©

Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen about a dozen active at night – the rest were active during the daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, and other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off the ground and flattens out the neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads. They can hiss when they strike.

Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35°C (about 95°F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are very easily agitated and strike much more often.

Monocled cobra skull showing dentition, fangs, jaw, cranium.
Skull from adult Monocled Cobra shows medium length, strong fangs. Photo from Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and necrotoxic / cytotoxic venoms” (link).

Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. The eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.

Monocled Cobra Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841


Monocled Cobra video – My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

BABY SNAKES Hissing Like Psychos! 2 Thailand Cobras 🇹🇭 | ThaiPulseCom

Monocled Cobra Rescue at House in Krabi, Thailand:

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses!

More than 34 stories of venomous snakebites and very near misses from Southeast Asia’s most deadly snakes – King Cobra, Malayan Pit Viper, Monocled Cobra, Banded Krait, Malayan Krait, and more! Digital Book with over 100 pages by Vern Lovic.

Find at by searching title or “Vern Lovic” to find all books.

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  1. Hi,
    Yep these snakes are everywhere. We live near the pata department store and our garden boarders a big area of wasteland that somehow didn’t manage to get developed, as the other condos sprang up around it. One day we noticed our bulldog rolling around on what turned out to be a baby monocled cobra. He squashed the thing flat and luckily wasn’t bitten. Over the next two months we had another 10 of them come into our garden. Each time we called the local pest control who managed to capture them. That was almost 3 years ago and we haven’t seen any since. Our daughter was extremely lucky as one poped out under the fridge when she had gone to get a drink. Sirirat hospital is only 10 minutes from our house but I always wondered how poisonous these snakes were. Would we make it in time? I checked with the hospital and they hold me that they had antivenom there. Scary, but luckily we haven’t seen any for a while, so hopefully the 10 we caught put a stop to them producing more offspring.

    1. For a child bitten by a monocled cobra – any cobra or krait – time is SO critical. Wrap the limb and get to the hospital ASAP. I have a book and some videos coming out shortly that will help. Cheers!

  2. I love this site, I had a very close call with a snake last September at the Centara in Karon, Phuket. We were staying in one of the cabanas that has a small walled garden out front with a private plunge pool and patio and a trellis above. It was on our last day at about 9am I’d gone out onto the patio and was hanging out a couple of shirts on the sun lounger to dry. As I stood up a snake dropped down from the trellis above and landed on the sun lounger. It was very black but with a small mark to the back of the head, about 18″ long and fairly thin. I’ve been to snake shows in Ao Nang & Phuket and this snake was much thinner than any of the Cobras I’d seen there but admittedly not as long either. Anyway the snake moved very quickly under the gate. I told the concierge at the hotel but he didn’t seem that concerned. Was it likely to have been a cobra ? I go to Thailand a couple of times a year mostly to Ao Nang & was wondering what time of year sees an increase in snake activity ?

  3. Hello Vern
    I’m from South Africa currently in Thailand on vacation with my wife. Your sight is very informative and may just help in case we come accros a snake here. I also are intrigued by snakes and will rather evade them than kill them. I find it very interesting that older people back home also believe that snakes live in pairs which obviously is not true. However there must be some truth about this believe as people over the world believe this. I think snakes follow other snakes by sent and not because they live together but rather because of mating or eating habits.
    Hope someone knowledgeable in this field can maybe tell us more about this subject.

    1. I have very rarely seen two snakes together in the wild… only after hatching or during mating season.


  4. I heard that these gúy can spit the venom but not too far, is it true?

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