Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake.

Naja kaouthia, the monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out from under your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. Monocled cobras seem to be everywhere in Thailand. I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.

I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas that was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself. These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during daytime, but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.

Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.

I’ve worked with two hatchling monocled cobras, and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.

If you are bitten by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, a scrape, get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your blood stream for biological chaos to ensue.

Naja kaouthia (Thailand Monocled Cobra)

Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or eye type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. Most are very close to black.

Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)

Length: Typical maximum length about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters long, a giant. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: Neuro toxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!

Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. Lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen five active at night – the rest, dozens of them, were active during daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads.

Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35C (about 95F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are very easily agitated and strike much more often.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and cytotoxic venoms” (link).

Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.

Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841

Monocled Cobra videos:
My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

Finding a Small Monocled Cobra on the Street:

A Couple Juvenile Monocled Cobras in a Tank:

About Vern Lovic

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species with more than 70 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

14 thoughts on “Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly”

  1. Hello,I’ve got a question.One day my girlfriend and I went to get a massage,while we was there we saw a snake next to the curb..I have been looking for this snake everywhere..i think it was a cobra,she being thai said it wasnt.So let me tell u about it..It was a silverish copper color with two black markings one each side,the marking was a little behind the eye.Could u help me identify what snake this was?

    Thanks

    1. Hi David,

      I wish I could tell you… there are many factors that come into play… Where in the country are you? Were you next to the ocean? How long was it? How thick? There are way over 100 different species of snake in TH – many of them silver/copperish. Many with markings behind the eye… Best to treat it like a cobra though!

    1. I’m still clueless. Maybe a rat snake. Maybe a cobra. Maybe a kukri snake. Maybe a keelback. Maybe a snail eating snake. Maybe a water snake. Maybe none of those! Too hard to guess really!

  2. Im an snake expert from malaysia i have got 6 king cobra’s in my basement as pets! the generation today has an wrong understanding on snakes. but the truth is if you handle this snakes with care and respect the snakes will be your pet.otherwise they can be as deadly as a bullet it the brain.

  3. I’m Stan, I’m an exotic non venomous snake and chelonian keeper. I’m very interested in the venom of the Cape Cobra Naja nivea and the Thai Monoculate or Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia and would like to know more about these species of venomous snakes which I know are from Southeast Asia and India.

  4. Hi. I’m in Nakhon Sawan and we are finding lots of these snakes lately. We have quite a few dogs who are regularly left in a free leash area. Last night one of them killed a Monocled Cobra. I am now very concerned about leaving my dogs in this area. Is there anything we can spray or do to prevent these snakes entering the area?

    Thanks!
    James

    1. Not unless you want to poison the environment. I suggest getting some traps with glue on the bottom. You can buy them on Ebay if you can’t find them in Thailand. I’ve never found them here. The glue traps a crawling snake, then the glue is dissolved by vegetable oil or something else when you want to let the snake free elsewhere. Put the traps where you see the snakes. If you find a dead snake you can scent the boxes by rubbing it on there. Monocled cobras eat other snakes and will smell it and investigate. Other than that, there’s not much you can do. Where monocled cobras are, sometimes there are a bunch of them.

  5. Vern, thanks for the tip re: glue traps. I would prefer to do that since I don’t want to harm the snakes themselves. I’ll give it a try.

    Cheers!

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