Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/78

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ors. From book to book the old yarns of his fondness for milk and his susceptibility to music are banded down as heirlooms, and will continue to find believers until writing naturalists keep living cobras at their elbows.

Under the general name "cobra" are included several species, differing little in general appearance. They are found all over southern Asia and throughout the entire continent of Africa. In India, Naja tripudians is common; in North Africa, Naja haja; and in South Africa, Sepedon hæmachates. In the other continents no true cobra exists. They are all hooded snakes, and

PSM V46 D078 Cobra di capello naja tripudians.jpg
Fig. 1.—Cobra di Capello {Naja tripudians).

all exceedingly venomous. In color they vary much; some are yellow, some are brown, others black—while in general all are banded more or less distinctly with regular light and dark rings. They are usually about four feet in length and two inches in diameter, but can attain to six feet.

All terrestrial deadly serpents may be divided into two groups—the Viperidæ which have the head covered with small, irregular scales; and the Elapidæ, which have it covered with large, regularly disposed plates. Taking the rattlesnake as the representative of the Viperidæ and the cobra of the Elapidæ, it will be instructive to note some of the differences between these two famous poisoners. The head in the rattler is broad and flat and