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EGYPTIAN COBRA






The one I met was an Egyptian Cobra, one of the biggest snakes in Africa. Sometimes they grow to three metres in length! People are very wary of them because their bite is poisonous, but they only attack people if they feel threatened by them.

They have two very long teeth in the top of their mouths called fangs, and the snake is able to squirt a poison (or 'venom') down these, and into the creatures they bite. The venom is a special chemical that will kill the victim- usually so the snake can eat them whole!

Scientists have developed special drugs that can save people's lives if they're bitten by a snake. They're called 'antivenoms'. The Egyptian Cobra has such strong venom that it's been worked out that one bite has enough poison in it to kill an elephant!

Despite this, there are some animals that have evolved in such a way that the poison doesn't hurt them- they're 'immune' to it. The Egyptian mongoose is one of them, which is just as well, because it likes to eat cobras. Because it's immune, it's one of the few animals that isn't afraid of this particular snake.

It might not look like it, but snakes actually have skeletons. These look like one great big long spine, with lots and lots of ribs, and a specially hinged jaw in the skull. The jaw can open so wide that the snake can swallow something bigger than it's own head! Imagine if you could do that! It makes a lot of sense, though, because with no hands or any way to grip, snakes can't bite pieces off their food and swallow those, so they have to do it in one big slow gulp.

Scientists are certain that snakes evolved from lizards. In other words, over millions of years, their legs and arms slowly grew smaller and smaller, and they began to move around just by twisting their long bodies on the ground. They know this because they've found very old fossil bones in the ground that look just like snakes, but these have small back legs. This is from 150 million years ago, a period of time called the 'Cretaceous', when dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops were still living.

There are some snakes like pythons that still have tiny, almost invisible back legs, ones that look like small claws, sticking out of their skin.

There are more quick snake facts here -
http://www.kidzone.ws/lw/snakes/facts-cobra.htm