A group of highly dangerous snakes with 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.
Only by examining a dead snake can you positively determine if it is a cobra or a near relative (Figure E-5). 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.
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. 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.
Laticaudinae and Hydrophidae
A subfamily of elapidae, these snakes are specialized in that they found a better environment in the oceans. Why they are in the oceans is not clear to science.
Sea snakes differ in appearance from other snakes in that they have an oarlike tail to aid in swimming. Some species of sea snakes have venom several times more toxic than the cobra's. Because of their marine environment, sea snakes seldom come in contact with humans. The exceptions are fisherman who capture these dangerous snakes in fish nets and scuba divers who swim in waters where sea snakes are found.
There are many species of sea snakes. They vary greatly in color and shape. Their scales distinguish them from eels that have no scales.
Sea snakes occur in salt water along the coasts throughout the Pacific. There are also sea snakes on the east coast of Africa and in the Persian Gulf. There are no sea snakes in the Atlantic Ocean.
There is no need to fear sea snakes. They have not been known to attack a man swimming. Fishermen occasionally get bit by a sea snake caught in a net. The bite is dangerous.
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