- Cobras are characterized by their signature hood that flares around their head when threatened or attacking.
- The snakes are found throughout Southeast Asia down into southern Africa.
- The largest cobra in the world is the king cobra.
Cobras have long fascinated and terrified us. They’re famous for their wide ‘hoods’ and ability to ‘dance’ for snake charmers. Their hoods aren’t really hoods at all but rather flattened and elongated ribs designed to make the cobra look bigger. When cobras feel threatened—whether by humans, predators, or even other cobras—they flatten their hoods, rear up off the ground, and hiss a warning.
These nightmarish snakes are found on islands off of Southeast Asia as well as on the mainland. They also inhabit down through South Africa. All of these snakes are venomous and are also quite large snakes. Some grow to only a couple of feet long, but others stretch to nearly 20 feet. But, just what are the largest cobras in the world, and how big are they?
Read on to learn more about ten of the largest cobras in the world.
10. Cape Cobra (Naja nivea)
One of the largest cobras in the world is the Cape cobra. Cape cobras grow up to five feet long and can live anywhere from the desert to the savannah. They’re native to southern Africa, where they prey on just about anything that crosses their path. Cape cobras hunt during the day and act quickly to defend themselves with a venomous bite if threatened or startled.
9. Snouted Cobra (Naja annulifera)
Snouted cobras are one of the largest cobras in the world. They grow up to six feet long. They’re slim snakes that spend most of their time on the ground hunting for rodents and other small creatures. Unlike other species of cobra, snouted cobras do not live in forested areas, preferring grasslands, shrublands, or semi-desert climates instead.
8. Chinese Cobra (Naja atra)
Chinese cobras grow up to six feet long, with some specimens measuring even a little longer. They’re easily recognizable by their dark, black scales, wide hoods, and distinct white markings across the neck. Chinese cobras live throughout southern and eastern China as well as the island of Taiwan. They’re extremely venomous and, unfortunately, run into humans all too often.
7. Javan Spitting Cobra (Naja sputatrix)
Though most Javan spitting cobras grow to around four feet long, some reach up to six feet in length. This makes the Javan spitting cobra one of the largest cobras in the world, despite its tiny geographical range. Javan spitting cobras have pale bellies with a single dark stripe across their necks. Their sides and back are characterized by alternating squares of light and dark scales. Like all cobras, they have wide hoods and toxic venom.
6. Black-Necked Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis)
One of the largest cobras in the world is the black-necked spitting cobra. These cobras are not only incredibly beautiful, but they’re also incredibly long, with some reaching up to seven feet. Black-necked spitting cobras live throughout most parts of central Africa. They’re mostly terrestrial but will also take to the trees to hunt if needed.
5. Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia)
Monocled cobras can reach over seven feet in length, though most grow to around five feet long. They’re native to Southeast Asia, where they live near water, grasslands, or forested areas. Monocled cobras have dark brown to black bodies with several circular markings along the back of the neck and hood.
4. Indian Cobra (Naja naja)
One of the largest cobras in the world, the famous Indian cobra can reach lengths of up to seven feet. These cobras inhabit the Indian subcontinent as well as the island of Sri Lanka. They have potent venom and wide hoods; their coloring ranges from light brown to almost black.
3. Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje)
These cobras—famous for their tendency to live among the pyramids—can grow up to 8.5 feet long. Because of their potent venom and quick self-defense, they’re one of the most dangerous snakes in northern Africa. Egyptian cobras are all black in color, and favor deserts where they can hunt for rodents.
2. Forest Cobra (Naja melanoleuca)
Forest cobras are one of the largest cobras in the world. In fact, they’re the longest ‘true’ cobras in the world at a maximum length of ten feet. Unlike number one on our list, the forest cobra is a member of the genus ‘Naja’, which technically makes them a true cobra. Forest cobras live across central Africa in forests, woodlands, and even scrublands.
This snake uses all that length to climb trees over 30 feet tall and easily propel itself through water. When faced with a threat, the forest cobra intimidates by rising high above the ground to scare predators away by appearing as large as possible. There are lots of potential predators for this substantial serpent to try and warn off. The forest cobra is hunted by mongoose, wild pigs, crocodiles, large lizards, and other snakes.
1. King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
The largest cobra in the world is the king cobra, nearly 20 feet long. King cobras are not ‘true’ cobras, as they belong to the Ophiophagus genus, rather than the Naja genus. Still, that doesn’t stop them from coming in at number one on our list of the largest cobras in the world.
King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world, and they have a potent, deadly venom to match. They’re unique in that they mostly eat other snakes, even smaller king cobras. When threatened, they rear up, spread their hoods, and hiss ferociously. Though generally non-aggressive, king cobras will bite to defend themselves, and with such a long body, they can strike at distances of several feet.
The top 10 largest cobras in the world are:
- King Cobra
- Forest Cobra
- Egyptian Cobra
- Indian Cobra
- Monocled Cobra
- Black-Necked Spitting Cobra
- Javan Spitting Cobra
- Chinese Cobra
- Snouted Cobra
- Cape Cobra
These cobras aren’t the only animals that impress with their size. Now that you know about these 10 hooded hunters, check out some other articles that highlight animals big and small.
- Discover The 10 Biggest Centipedes in the World! – Did you know that the Haitian giant centipede is large enough to prey on small rodents and amphibians? From the world’s thousands of centipede species, we’ve featured the ten longest here.
- The Top 10 Smallest Cats in the World – Do not underestimate these modestly-sized felines! Here you can learn about how the margay’s anatomy helps it pounce on prey, the sand dune cat’s survival skills, and more!
- Top 10 Heaviest Animals in the World – Discover the bulkiest beasts from all corners of the globe! You’ll see everything from eight-ton elephants to mammoth reptiles that have no problem eating poison toads and porcupines.
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