Arabian cobra

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Arabian cobra
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Elapinae
Genus: Naja
Laurenti, 1768
Species: N. arabica
Binomial name
Naja arabica
Scortecci, 1932[1][2][3]
Distribution of the Arabian cobra
Distribution of the Arabian cobra
  • Naja haje arabica
    Scortecci, 1932
  • Naja haje arabica
    Haas, 1957
  • Naja haje arabica
    Broadley, 1968
  • Naja haje arabica
    Welch, 1994
  • Naja (Uraeus) arabica
    Wallach et al, 2009
  • Naja arabica
    Trape et al, 2009

The Arabian cobra (Naja arabica) is a species of cobra in the genus Naja that is found in the Arabian Peninsula. This species had long been considered to be a subspecies of the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), but morphological and genetic differences have led to its recognition as a separate species.[4]


This species was first described by Scortecci in 1932. The generic name naja is a Latinisation of the Sanskrit word nāgá (नाग) meaning "cobra". The specific epithet arabica means "arabic" or "of Arab lands".


It is a medium to large, slightly depressed, tapered and moderately slender bodied snake with a medium length tail. Body compressed dorsoventrally and subcylindrical posteriorly. Has long cervical ribs capable of expansion to form a hood when threatened. Measures roughly 1 m (3.28 ft) to 1.5 m (4.92 ft) in length, but may grow to lengths of 2.4 m (7.87 ft). The head is broad, flattened and slightly distinct from the neck. The canthus is distinct. The snout is rounded. The eyes are medium in size with round pupils. Dorsal scales are smooth and strongly oblique. Dorsal scale count (21 or 23) - (19 or 21, very rarely 17) - (15 or 17).[5]

Distribution and habitat

The Arabian cobra is found in the Arabian Peninsula. It occurs in southeastern Saudi Arabia, throughout Yemen and eastern Oman.

This species is most often found in well vegetated microhabitats within close proximity to water in rocky, arid, semi desert regions.[5]

Behaviour and diet


Apparently this species is a "spitter". It is mainly diurnal, often forages during the day on overcast days. If confronted, it will raise its forebody, spread its hood and readily spit (squirts) venom at the eyes of an intruder or aggressor. Seldom bites.[5]


This species prefers to prey upon frogs and toads but will eat small mammals, birds, eggs, lizards and other snakes as well.[5]

Cited references