In Thailand, one of the most dangerous and common snakes that you may see as you spend time in the country is the monocled cobra. These cobras are especially common in the beach areas of Krabi and the coastal mainland. They are found all over the country but not typically in deep forests.
If you find a cobra of any kind, LEAVE IT ALONE. Back up and watch where it goes. It may go to a place you can tell an expert about and he/she can rescue it if the snake is in a place where it may cause danger for humans or pets.
See this page for phone numbers and what to do if you find a king cobra in your house or yard that you want removed.
How to Tell if a Snake is a Cobra?
In Thailand, we have three types of cobras in general monocled cobras, spitting cobras, and king cobras. Spitting cobras will typically be found in deep forests or dense forests while monocled cobras can be found on the edges of forests and in human habitats in cities on beaches just about anywhere.
We also have king cobras but they are quite rare in comparison to other cobras.
Monocled cobras are typically black or dark brown and start out around 40 cm in length and grow to a maximum of about 2 m long. The thickness can range from that of a pencil up to someone’s thick wrist.
You may or may not see a design on the back of a monocled cobra’s neck because the extra skin can be folded and obscure the pattern.
Monocled cobras are named this way because they have a monocle or an eye shape on the back of their neck. This is visible when the hood is flared (opened up).
Spitting cobras can be a range of colors and patterns, including white and white with dark blotches. It is sometimes difficult to identify a snake as a cobra until it flares the hood.
Do keep in mind that cobras don’t always flare the hood. When they are moving fast and trying to get away oftentimes there is no hood at all and you may think it’s a rat snake or some other harmless snake species.
Please don’t try to pick up any snake that you cannot identify.
How Far Can Spitting Cobras Spit?
The venom that a spitting cobra can spit is under pressure because the jaw muscles can squeeze the venom out forcefully. Spitting cobras are skilled at shooting venom at the right angle to reach an enemy’s eyes.
Venom can be spit or sprayed 2 or even 3 meters forward. If the wind happens to be present, the venom can travel 10 meters in a breeze. It’s a very fine mist.
It’s very important that if a cobra hoods in front of you that you quickly turn your head and protect your eyes because the venom can be sprayed very quickly. I know experienced snake handlers who were caught by surprise and received venom in the eyes from spitting cobras.
Are Cobras Dangerous?
Yes, cobras are some of the most dangerous snakes in Southeast Asia and Thailand has an abundance of them.
We’ll talk about a couple of reasons cobras are dangerous to people and pets and why you should do everything you can to stay away from them.
We already talked about spitting cobras able to spray venom some meters in distance..
Cobras don’t typically care much about proximity to human beings or spending time in human habitat. They are often found in kitchen areas of homes and restaurants. I have heard from a number of restaurant owners who have had monocled cobras come into the restaurant in the middle of an evening meal or afternoon meal.
Cobras are active during both day and night time so that makes them especially common. Cobras seem to be most active at about 3 PM.
I believe that is because of the heat of the day and the ground is at its maximum temperature at that time of day.
Cobras have a neurotoxic venom that attacks nerve synapses which can disable or interfere with your breathing and your heartbeat. The venom from a monocled cobra is stronger in potency than a king cobra’s venom. A king cobra has more volume of venom and can kill you faster though.
Monocled cobras have two fangs in the front of the mouth that are hollow and that can inject venom very quickly in a large amount. Cobras are fast to strike and they don’t necessarily need to be hooded to strike and bite.
When Are Cobras Active?
Cobras are active during daytime and nighttime hours. I have only seen cobras active at night maybe half a dozen times. I have found cobras active during the daytime scores of times.
What Do Cobras Eat?
Cobras are opportunistic feeders, but they prefer rodents. Rats, mice, shrews, and possibly squirrels though they probably don’t have the opportunity to catch a squirrel that often because cobras are primarily ground-dwelling snakes.
How To Catch a Cobra?
Let an expert catch the cobra for you. Please don’t attempt it yourself. Here is a video of me catching a monocled cobra that was by a man’s foot at his home outside his house.
See how careful I am? I haven’t been bitten by a venomous snake in 16 years of catching them. I’m super careful. STILL I have had some close calls.
If you want to read some stories about venomous snakebites that I have heard and about some of my close calls, I wrote a book of stories. There aren’t any photos, just stories. You can find it below.
Venomous Snakebite Stories (at Amazon) >
More Cobra Information