The Renowned Egyptian Cobra
Not everyone will be all too pleased to meet up with an Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), but travelers to Morocco should be aware that it is the most common variety of cobra in North Africa. This somewhat attractive but deadly snake lives in hot, desert-like regions and much of Morocco fits that description. Still, the Egyptian cobra in Morocco does not go out of its way to make contact with humans and most visitors never even encounter one during their travels.
The Egyptian cobra is a nocturnal creature, though it may be spotted basking in the sun during the early hours of the morning. Much of its body is yellowish, dark brown or black with a brown underbelly it will usually have brown cross-bands and its head may be black or brown. This can make it difficult to see at night. The head is large and depressed and has a broad snout and large, round eyes. The neck, complete with hood, may be up to 18 cm wide. Like all other cobras, the Egyptian cobra raises its hood when threatened and if you see one you should do your best to avoid coming into contact with it. These snakes are extremely dangerous, having the second most toxic venom of all the cobras. Only the Cape cobra has a more toxic venom. However the Egyptian cobra is considered to be more dangerous since it is bigger, more aggressive and capable of injecting more venom per bite. Fortunately they are seldom seen in homes or hotels and are more likely to be found in cultivated farmlands, open fields or arid landscapes.
In ancient times the Egyptian cobra was worshiped by the Egyptians. Also called the ‘Asp’, it is thought that it was an Egyptian cobra which Cleopatra used to kill herself. Whether that is true or not will never be known, but what is known is that the bite of this cobra results in a relatively quick and painless death. Despite their fearful association with humans, the Egyptian cobra has no interest in people whatsoever. Instead they prefer to prey on small mammals, toads, lizards and other snakes. Egyptian cobras usually range in size from 1.5 to 2 meters, but have been known to grow as long as 2.5 meters. The only recommended contact with these deadly but enchanting creatures is through the fortified glass of a zoo enclosure.