Egyptian Cobra

The Egyptian Cobra, also known as the Egyptian asp, is a giant venomous snake, with some specimens reaching up to 8.5 ft. Its generic name comes from the Sanskrit word naga, meaning Cobra, in English. Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish zoologist, first described it.

Scientific Classification


Table Of Content

Scientific Classification


This snake has played a massive part in Egypt’s history and continues to do so at present. It symbolized sovereignty, and the monarchs designed their crowns in the model of their hood. It was also said to be the snake used by Queen Cleopatra to commit suicide.

Egyptian Cobra


Size: 4.6 ft (1.4 m)

Weight: 20 pounds (9.07 kg)

Head: It has a depressed head with a rounded snout leading up to a neck that expands and forms into a hood.

Tail:  It has a long tail at the end of its cylindrical body.

Coloration: Its color is mostly brown, with a few having a reddish coppery tinge and some with a grayish-brown hue.

Scalation: The Egyptian Cobra has 19-20 dorsal scales and 191-220 ventral scales.

Egyptian Cobra vs. King Cobra

The Egyptian cobra can easily be distinguished from the King cobra as the latter has a much larger head and narrower hood than the former.

Range and Distribution

The snake inhabits North Africa and parts of West and South Africa. Common areas to find it include the Sahara desert, the Congo Basin, and the eastern regions of Kenya and Tanzania.

Egyptian Cobra Head
Egyptian Cobra Bite


The Egyptian cobra thrives in varying environments, including the dry or moist savannah regions and the steppes as well as in semi-desert areas where vegetation and even water remain available.

One could find them in scrublands and agricultural fields. These cobras are even attracted to homes, especially those housing domestic chickens or infested with pests like rats. 

Egyptian Cobra Habitat
Egyptian Cobra Picture


The Egyptian Cobra lives for 20-25 years on average.

What do they eat

Its diet mainly consists of toads, small mammals, birds, lizards, eggs, and other snake species.


  • The Egyptian cobra is nocturnal, though it can sometimes sunbathe in the wee hours of the morning.
  • It is terrestrial, living in burrows made by other rodents. 
  • When approached by a predator, it tries to escape first. If provoked, it stands upright, expands its hood, and will strike.

Venom facts

The Egyptian cobra’s venom causes damage to the nerves and cells, causing fatality if not treated at the earliest. After envenomation, one may experience pain in the affected area, severe swelling, and blistering alongside non-specific effects like diarrhea, headache, and nausea.


It is mainly preyed upon by mongooses.


  • Like most cobras, the Egyptian cobra can easily unhinge its jaw to swallow its prey.
  • It has sharp teeth to hold down its enemy to prevent them from escaping.
Baby Egyptian Cobra
Egyptian Cobra Images

Mating and Reproduction

The mating season for these snakes lasts from winter to summer. Females tend to lay 8-33 eggs at a time.

Life Cycle

The incubation period of the eggs ranges from 48 to 70 days. Then, the hatchlings emerge around April or May.

They reach sexual maturity at around 2-4 years.

Conservation Status

The Egyptian Cobra’s conservation status is unsure but is most likely “LC” or “Least Concern”.

Egyptian Cobra Asp
Naja haje

Interesting Facts

  • In 2006 in Canada, a pet Egyptian cobra, created hype as it had set itself loose, compelling inmates in a Toronto house to evacuate their shelter. The owner was penalized with a 1-year jail and a $17,000 fine. 
  • On March 26, 2011, a female of this species escaped from its enclosure in the Bronx Zoo. She was later found in a dark corner of the zoo’s reptile house and nicknamed “Mia”, meaning “missing in action”.
  • In July 2018, an Egyptian cobra bit magician Aref Ghafouri during his preparation for a show in Turkey. He eventually recovered from his wounds after being treated in Egypt.

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