E-23. Elapidae are a group of highly dangerous snakes with a powerful neurotoxic venom that affects the nervous system, causing respiratory paralysis. Included in this family are coral snakes, cobras, mambas, and all the Australian venomous snakes. The coral snake is small and has caused human fatalities. The Australian death adder, tiger, taipan, and king brown snakes are among the most venomous in the world, causing many human fatalities.
E-24. Only by examining a dead snake can you positively determine if it is a cobra or a near relative (Figure E-6). On cobras, kraits, and coral snakes, the third scale on the upper lip touches both the nostril scale and the eye. The krait also has a row of enlarged scales down its ridged back.
Figure E-6. Positive Identification of Cobras, Kraits,and Coral Snakes
E-25. You can find the cobras of Africa and the Near East in almost any habitat. One kind may live in or near water, another in trees. Some are aggressive and savage. The distance a cobra can strike in a forward direction is equal to the distance its head is raised above the ground. Some cobras, however, can spit venom a distance of 3 to 3.5 meters (10 to 12 feet). This venom is harmless unless it gets into your eyes; then it may cause blindness if not washed out immediately. Poking around in holes and rock piles is dangerous because of the chance of encountering a spitting cobra.