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Sand Cobra

"Fear them"

-DesertWind's Hunter

APPEARANCE: The Sand Cobra is a colossal serpent. The length of their body is hard to judge because it’s usually buried under the sand. Females are the largest of the snakes ... with some reaching almost 150 feet in length ... most are between 100 feet to 50 feet, though. Although they generally move with their body flat on the ground or within the sand itself, they can rear up to 1/3 of their total body length, making them up to 50 feet tall.

Sand Cobras have the basic snake appearance, with a long, round, scaled body that tapers to a pointed tail. The head is flat on top, with two black beady eyes located on the front. The neck is exaggerated due to folds of loose skin on either side of it. When the Sand Cobra becomes scared or agitated, ribs in the neck flatten out, expanding the folds of skin and creating a long, wide hood. This hood lacks patterns of any kind. Sand Cobras are almost always different shades of brown and tan ... making them blend into the sand.

Sand Cobras shed their skin 4-6 times per year for adults, every month for juveniles. To get the skin to start to peel, the Sand Cobra will rub its body against rough edges. By the time the shedding is complete, the Sand Cobra has new skin, fangs, teeth, eyes, and tongue tip. Shedding will leave the Sand Cobra with poor eyesight for up to 10 days.
Sand Cobras are covered with scales, the number and arrangement of the scales remains the same with every shedding. The scales on the back are small and rounded; the scales on the belly stretch the entire width of the belly and are arranged in a single downward column.

Sand Cobras have good eyesight, being able to see from miles away. They lack external ears, but can still hear due to sound traveling through their skin to the jaw bone, then to the quadrate bone (next to the ear bone), and from there to the inner eardrum. They taste and smell with their forked tongue, drawing scents into their mouth. Holes in the trachea emit a low hiss resembling a dog's growl. Sand Cobras are more intelligent than true cobras. They have a life span of 20 years.

FOOD: Sand Cobras will eat almost anything ... nothing is safe from these snakes when they are hungry. The serpents hunting methods are fairly effective. Making them very dangerous. A mottled and rough-scaled skin makes it easy for them to blend into the sand. Along with this, the cobra will bury itself into the sand with only its eyes and nostrils visible. To the untrained eye it may look like a few scattered rocks. Sand Cobras hunt for their food by smelling the air with their forked tongue. When they find a suitable quarry, they rear up to 1/3 their body length and strike. If their prey flees, they are able to follow in this upright position for long distances. When they catch their prey, muscles send the venom from the glands, through the fangs, and into the victim. The prey is swallowed whole, and the Sand Cobra may not feed again for several weeks.

BREEDING : Sand Cobras spend solitary lives, getting together just to mate. They may, however, mate with the same snake each year. Sand Cobras reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years of age. The breeding season begins in early summer, and is evidenced by a shedding of their skin. In females, the shedding releases pheromones, which help males to find a female. When they find each other, the male entwines its body around the female, and they may stay in that position for several hours. The female can store the sperm for several years, using it to impregnate herself several times. The female lays 20-50 white eggs two months after mating. The eggs are laid in a nest made during the two- month period. Sand Cobras are the only snakes known to make a nest, perhaps a sign of their intelligence. After a 60-70 day incubation period, the eggs hatch. Just before the juveniles emerge, the female abandons them, possibly to keep her from eating her young. The babies measure four feet in length and are about five inches wide. Their venom is just as potent as that of an adult, and after their first molt at 10 days of age, they are ready to hunt. The most treacherous time of the year is mating season. The elves are usually at the Main Camp by this time. During the mating season the cobras is very dangerous. The elves find safer to be in one place and stay there during the mating months. In contrast the safest time of the year is during the winter. It is during the winter months that the cobras hibernate. This is when traveling is at its best.

VENOM: Sand Cobras venom is deadly, but from a full-size snake it’s not the venom that you are worried about but fangs that deliver it. The venom is located in glands behind the eyes — these glands are attached to two hollow, erect fangs. These fangs are half foot in length and are attached to the upper jaw. The lower jaw consists of two bones loosely hinged together, which can allow large prey to be swallowed. They also have a two foot long fangs in the front ... these are solid and very deadly. The venom is a neurotoxin, and in humans and elves can cause pain, swelling, hypertension, nausea, abdominal pain, drowsiness, limb paralysis, unconsciousness, and finally death. The symptoms begin to show 15-30 minutes after the attack. There is a very small window of opportunity to counter the poison with an anti-venom ... less then 2 hours.