The Philippine cobra is one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. Its scientific name, Naja philippinensis, literally means “cobra from the Philippine Islands”. It is also commonly known as the northern Philippine cobra.
Danger to Humans:
The Philippine cobra is considered deadly to humans. Its venom is dangerous and could lead to death in as little as 30 minutes. What is even scarier is that the Philippine cobra does not even have to bite you to kill you! It is a type of “spitting cobra”, so it can launch its venom at threats.
The Philippine cobra’s spitting behavior can launch its venom up to 8-10 feet! It is very accurate while “spitting” and can hit humans with venom in their eyes blinding them and allowing the snake to escape! The blindness is temporary but can become permanent if immediate medical attention is not sought.
Scientists have discovered the reason for this accurate aim is that the snakes can actually predict where the spitting victim is going to be! At about 2 feet, it can hit its target 100% of the time, and, at farther distances, it has an astonishing 90% accuracy rate. The venom is sprayed in distinct geometric patterns, and this snake would be the champion of any spitting contest!
As the name suggests, a Philippine cobra is endemic, or native, to the northern parts of the Philippines. Philippine cobras can be found in many different types of habitats, including forests, jungles, plains, grasslands, and even developed areas. It is particularly fond of water, so a Philippine cobra can often be found near ponds, rivers or even large puddles.
The average length of this snake is between 3-5 feet. However, there have been reports from some island populations of snakes reaching 7 feet! These snakes are light to medium brown in color.
Like all spitting cobras, the Philippine cobra has the ability to produce a hood when it feels threatened. If they feel threatened, they will raise some of their upper body and head off of the ground and expands, or spreads out, its neck ribs. This behavior is called hooding.
The Philippine cobra will eat a variety of prey, including small mammals, frogs, and even birds. It must be very careful when finding prey for food because it is not a very strong snake and uses its spitting venom to subdue the prey before trying to kill it.
Its appetite for rats often gets it into trouble because the rat fights back and has been known to injure, even blind, Philippine cobras! Although the rat will not survive the snake’s venom, it could leave injuries that could kill the snake.
- Special Adaptations: The shape of the Philippine cobra is unique in that the fangs are narrower and more teardrop-shaped than other snake species. The venom does not come out of the tip of the fang-like other venomous snakes, including other species of cobras. Instead, a small hole in front of the fang allows them to spray out their venom. The venom goes outward instead of downward. Scientists believe this was an adaptation in order for the Philippine cobra to not get stepped on by large predators, such as antelopes.
- Reproduction: Cobras are the only type of snake that shows some parental interest in protecting their young. A Philippine cobra female will lay 20-40 eggs in a nest and guard them until they hatch. As soon as they are hatched, they are left on their own.
- Unfortunately, although once common, the Philippine cobra population is decreasing. It faces natural predators, such as king cobras and mongooses, as well as humans. It is often killed on sight, especially when found near fields. It is also collected for use as exotic food and, on a lower level, to be used in the pet trade. Because of the declining population, its conservation status is listed as Near Threatened.
Striking Statements of Fact:
- The Philippine cobra was named by the American scientist, Edward Harrison Taylor, in 1922.
- Although the Philippine cobra is listed as a member of the “spitting cobras”, scientists have performed research to determine that these types of cobras really do not spit at all ~ at least not the way humans think about spitting. Instead, as the snake fangs release the venom, the snake will actually expel, or force out, air from its lungs causing the venom to be pushed out! The more accurate term to describe them would be “spraying cobras”!