Friday, March 30, 2007

Cobra Snake

Snakes of the World - Part III

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Cobra. (Family; Elapidae, Genus; Naja)

Of all snakes cobra is the most glamorous one, a cobra with its fearsome hood and the “spectacle design” on the rear; is a sight that can garner fear and respect, there is no wonder cobra is worshiped in many parts of the world. About a dozen species have been known of which Africa and Asia share the most numbers. All the species of this Genus is poisonous.

Indian Cobra (Naja naja) as per Malcolm. A. Smith and (Naja tripudiens) as per E. G. Boulenger. The neck of this snake is laterally dilatable thus forming its characteristic “hood” giving it a very special status among the snakes. The bi-spectacle (binocellate) mark at the hind is most popular where as single spectacle (monocellate) is also available as in Naja kaouthia. The author may quote three instances from Hindu Mythologies to express how cobra is intertwined with human culture and mythologies.

Lord Siva is said to wear a big live cobra around his neck wherever he goes, as snakes are accepted as a symbol of virility universally the myth must be derived from that aspect Lord Siva is worshiped in the shape of phallus also adds credibility to this view.

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“Anandan” as per Hindu mythology is a gigantic cobra which has a hood in the size of a banyan tree, on which there are thousand heads, it is on his in the shade of his hood God Vishnu the Lord of the world relaxes and conducts his business!

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>“Kaliyan” is yet another mythological cobra which poisoned and polluted an entire river by name “Kalindi” and turned it dark-blue! “Kaliyan” used to swallow anyone who happened to get in the river; Lord Sri Krishna had a mission to execute this serpent! Krishna when he was an infant completed his mission only after performing a dance playing his flute on the hood of this fearsome giant-snake to enthrall his admirers.

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Buddhist worship the Indian cobras as they believe these holy snakes gave shade to Sri Buddha by spreading its hood over him while Buddha slept

Cobras prefer to lay eggs on termite pits and the females volunteer the duty of protecting the eggs at this time they may be very aggressive and dangerous. At a season they lay about 40 eggs, and about sixty days to hatch. The young ones come out are golden colored and very cute but they have small fangs and poison glands. This coloration has given rise to many superstitions. These young ones are mistook for holy-serpents with divine powers Hindu mythologies and Indian folklores are rife with imaginary stories about these magical serpents!

1a. King Cobra (Naja bangarus). It is largest among venomous snakes in the world and grows up to 18 feet and mainly feed on other snakes. Its bite can kill a man within 2 hours and an elephant within 3 hours! In the London zoo the first king cobra visitor was placed along with six other cobras due to ignorance of the care-taker. In the next day for the horror of the authorities they could find only one instead of seven (6+1), the king cobra proved who he is by swallowing the other six by the night! While the king was relaxing after a sumptuous supper poor zoo authorities were tearing their hair no knowing how to report the news to the higher-ups!

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King-Cobra builds its own nest for laying eggs, this is a very rare phenomenon in the family of snakes as they generally encroach the burrows of rodents for a living! The King-Cobra is devoid of the spectacle mark which is the “trade mark” of ordinary Cobras. They mate during rainy seasons and lay eggs April-May months. Generally 20 to 30 eggs are laid during a season. Guarding the eggs is the duty of the females. The young ones when hatched crawl away as if they have nothing to do with the mother!

1b. Venom Spitting Cobra (Naja Nigricollis) can spit venom in two streams to a distance of several yards and kill a victim without contacting it. It is done by the contraction of the muscles around the poison-glands. In the zoos keepers take precaution by wearing goggles when feeding these monsters! Otherwise they will have to pay with their eye-sight for the oversight. Fortunately these venom “spitters” are found only in Africa!

There are numerous folk tales about these wonderful snakes which could not be included for the sake of brevity

Snakes of the World - Part 1

Snakes of the World Part – 2. - Evolution in Snakes

Snakes of the World Part - 3. - Cobra

Snakes of the World Part - 4. - Viper

Snakes of the World Part - 5. - King Cobra

To be continued...


M'Adair said...

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Anonymous said...

Just curious.... When you refer to Hindu beliefs, you refer to them as myths and imagination but do not use the term for Buddhists. Any particular reason?

suhasnaidu22 said...

Naja bangarus - Wrongly addressed.

You have written Naja bangarus is the scientific name of the King But the King Cobra is Ophiophagus Hannah. Please correct..