Do Cobras Lay Eggs? Egg-cellent Facts That Everyone Should Know

Aashita Dhingra
Nov 02, 2023 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Jan 28, 2022
Read on to know if cobras lay eggs.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

Cobras are some of the most venomous snakes you can find on the planet!

Almost 70% of the world's snakes lay eggs. Cobras are a snake species that belong to the Elapidae family, which also includes the black mamba and adders.

Snakes give birth to baby snakes in two different ways. Most snakes give birth by laying eggs and are called oviparous snakes.

On the other hand, there are a few species of snakes that give birth to living young ones where they nourish their growing babies through a yolk sac or placenta. There are also a few snake species where the female snakes develop the eggs inside the body and then end up giving birth to live baby snakes.

This kind of birth is called ovoviviparous snakes. These snakes are called viviparous snakes.

An example of viviparous snakes is sea snake species that give birth to live young in the water. Laticauda, uniquely, is a species of sea snakes, that are known to lay eggs on land. King cobras and cobras are not exactly the same species of snake.

They both come under the Elapidae family but are described under two separate genera. King cobras are called so because they eat cobras!

They are extremely poisonous snakes that live in parts of northern India, east and southern China, and Southeast Asia. Similar to coral snakes, cobra species possess a potent neurotoxic venom, which is believed to act on the nervous system.

A bite from these poisonous snakes can lead to damages in vision, speaking, swallowing, breathing difficulties, and skeletal muscle weakness. An interesting characteristic about these cobras is that due to their inability to hold down prey with their fangs, they inject venom through their fangs!

Cobras also adopt a menacing pose called 'hooding' where the snake sticks out its neck ribs, forming a widened and flattened section of its body near the head to stand up. Cobras come under the oviparous category, which means that they reproduce by laying eggs.

Female snakes lay around 20-40 eggs at a time.

The female's body then incubates the eggs for a period of 60-80 days. Cobras will make sure to stay near their eggs, protecting them and keeping them safe until the eggs hatch.

Some common dangers to cobra eggs are mongoose and wild boars. This is justified in its sense as the mongoose and the cobra are sworn enemies!

Viviparous And Ovoviviparous Snakes

Most snake species all over the world come under the category of oviparous snakes. The next majority of snake species come under the category of viviparous snakes and the rest fall under Ovoviviparous snakes.

Oviparous snakes are snakes that reproduce by laying eggs. After the eggs are laid by the snakes, the eggs must be incubated or kept warm till the baby snakes are ready to hatch out from the eggs.

Almost all snakes that belong to the Colubridae family are believed to lay eggs. These species include rat snakes, king snakes, grass snakes, black mambas, adders, and venomous cobras too!

Viviparous snakes are those snakes that reproduce by giving birth to a living young and there is no laying of eggs involved. These types of snakes tend to nourish their young ones through a yolk sac or the placenta.

It is an interesting attribute as it is very unusual among reptiles. Green anacondas and Boa constrictors from the Boidae family are some examples of snakes that give birth to their young ones.

Again, there are no eggs involved at any development stage. Sea snake species fall under this category as well but one genus named Laticauda lays eggs on land.

Ovoviviparous snakes are kind of a cross between snakes that lay eggs and snakes that give birth to young ones. Female snakes that are ovoviviparous conceive the eggs inside the body and when the baby snakes are born, the female retains or keeps the eggs inside her.

Therefore, the young ones are born without the egg. In short, the egg hatches inside the female snake's body, and the baby comes out fully active without any traces of the eggshells. An example of ovoviviparous snakes is rattlesnakes.

Looking After The Eggs

Amazing facts about cobra eggs and how they look after them.

Over 3,000 species of snakes lay eggs that hatch after a brief period of time. The oviduct of the female snake is where the eggs grow.

The placenta or the yolk sac provides all the vital nutrients that are necessary for the development of the growing baby snake.

Females can lay around 20-40 eggs at a time, depending on the specific species.

Some nesting females will warm up their eggs or incubate them by burying them in the ground and some wrap their bodies around the eggs to provide warmth to the eggs for hatching. These snake species do a great job at looking after their young ones but, strangely, their parenting tasks are over when the babies are born.

King Cobras At Birth

King cobras belong to the Elapidae family, but are different from cobras. Despite being the most dangerous snake species on the planet, they are much more cautious than smaller snakes, attacking only out of defense or to protect their eggs.

The king cobra is an extremely venomous snake and their babies are called hatchlings. After these snakes lay eggs and once the eggs hatch, they leave the nests and start their independent lives without relying on the mother.

When the babies hatch, they promptly depart from their nests and begin looking after themselves, as totally independent creatures. King cobras that are newborns are usually between 18-20 in (45.72-50.8 cm) in length.

Baby king cobras usually have bodies that are black in color with light yellow or white markings on them. Fun fact, baby king cobras can spread their hood from the day hatch out of their eggs!

King Cobra Lifespan

The king cobra is a large and deadly snake that is well capable of killing other animals hundreds of times its own size.

Because of this size, powerful venom, defensive nature, and ability to lay eggs in large numbers, this snake is able to survive in its natural habitat for a long amount of time and multiply its species very well.

A king cobra snake's average life span in the wild is approximately between 17-20 years and this may be longer in captivity away from potential dangers and threats.

King cobras are often popular displays in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos, where they can live and enjoy a life that safe from harmful predators like other larger snakes, wild boars, and the mongoose.

Do snakes abandon their babies?

Unlike most animals and reptiles that look after their young and feed them, making sure that they are well developed before leaving the nest, snakes do their parenting process a little differently.

Once the mother snakes have laid their eggs and incubated them, they wait till the eggs hatch. Some snakes have been observed to stay with their young ones for up to two weeks.

However, most mothers tend to abandon their young once they hatch out of the eggs and the baby snakes now have to fend for themselves. The baby snakes immediately begin to hunt and gain strength.

They also do a great job at adapting to their environment very quickly. Ultimately, different snake species handle their young ones or their eggs in different ways.

Did you know...

Some snakes lay eggs that are cannibalistic. Baby snakes will often eat their siblings right after they're born.

Snake eggs come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as small as a grape or as big as a tennis ball! Some species of snakes lay eggs that can survive during extreme weather conditions and climate like the eggs of gopher snakes, for example!

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

Aashita Dhingra picture

Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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