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Cobras in the Philippines: What you should know about them

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | August 10,2023 - 07:30 AM

cobras philippines

A closer look of Samar Cobra (Naja Samarensis) | photo from Wikimedia Commons

CEBU CITY, Philippines — What do you know about cobras?

Cobras belonged to highly venomous snakes, said Rainier Manlegro, ecosystems specialist 2 of the Enforcement Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 7 (DENR-7).

Cobras in the Philippines

In the Philippines, there are three types of cobras: Philippine Cobra, King Cobra, and Samar Cobra.

He told CDN Digital that based on records, there are no cobras in Cebu.

However, he said that nowadays, there had been sightings of cobras here.

READ: Netizens on cobra spotted in San Fernando, Cebu: ‘Kahadlok!’

“Og naay makita nato diri sa atoa, mostly ana, na-introduce diri. Daghan man ta’g factors for introduction,” Manlegro said.

(If there are sightings here, those are mostly, introduced here. There are many factors for introduction.)

Factors of introduction


Manlegro said that it could be “accidental.”

“For example, nadala sa barko. Tungod kay paspas na atoang transportation na ron, [for example] ang sakyanan isakay sa barko ‘nya didto sa sakyanan nisakay diay sa ilawm [ang cobra],” he said.

(For example, it was brought by boat. Because our transportation is fast now, [for example], a vehicle will be transported by boat and then it [the cobra] will go under the vehicle [and will be transported with the vehicle without anybody knowing it].)

READ: What you should do when bitten by a snake

Hoping for no more sightings

Meanwhile, he hopes that there will be no additional sightings of cobras here.

“Wala pod ta kakita og pariha’g breed niya kay basin og mo sanay sila. Mao na siya’y possibility nga mo naa tay cobras diri sa Cebu Island,” he said.

(We also did not see a similar breed because they might breed here. That is the possibility that we can have cobras here in Cebu Island.)

He added that hopefully there would be no more accidents involving cobras.

“Mostly baya og maka encounter ka og cobra, labi nana ang samarensis (Samar Cobra) which is mao mana’y kasagarang natong makita katong yellow iyahang throat dapit, so kuyaw kaayo labi na og wala ta’y first aid, kuyaw kaayo og mamatay ta mga 20 minutes ra gani siguro,” he said.

(When we mostly encounter a cobra, especially the samarensis (Samar Cobra), which is that is what we mostly see, the one with a yellow throat, so that is very dangerous especially if we don’t have first aid, that is dangerous because the victim might die in 20 minutes.)

READ: IN THE KNOW: The king cobra

cobras philippines


Meanwhile, the Banakon or King Cobra, Manlegro said that it could possibly be seen in Cebu Island and in Bohol Province because of the environment there.

“Ang cobras are highly venomous snakes gyud (really),” he reiterated.

READ: Cebu City lacks antivenom for snake bites–city vet

Pet enthusiasts

Another reason that he provided was also because some people purposely want to have it, especially the pet enthusiasts.

That was why he said that the DENR would encourage people to buy a pet from legal sources so they could have permits and have guidelines of their responsibilities when they would decide to have a wildlife as a pet.

He said that he was aware that there were “irresponsible pet owners” in general.

“Kung naa man gani sila’y mga wildlife nga ilahang gipangdala, ilahang gipang handle, they have to apply for a permit sa DENR para mahatagan sila og guide. Unya kay ang usa sa mga requirements, you need to have a veterinarian,” he said.

(If they have wildlife that they brought along, they were handling, then they have to apply for a permit at the DENR so that they can be given a guide. And because one of the requirements, you need to have a veterinarian.)

He added that this was also why there was a “less introduction” of wildlife here because that was what they made sure that the introduction of wildlife would be “not detrimental to the ecosystem.”


“Sa Cebu, based on record, wala pa gyud na. Pero sa sightings lang since 2014, naa na tay mga sightings anang mga cobraha diri.”


READ: Boy killed by snake bite in Biliran

Samar Cobra, King Cobra

The Philippine Cobra is also called the spitting cobra and it is usually seen in Samar, according to Manlegro.

The Samar Cobra is the one that people usually see here in Central Visayas, especially in Bohol.

And the King Cobra can usually be found in Bohol as well, said Manlegro.

“Sa Cebu, based on record, wala pa gyud na. Pero sa sightings lang since 2014, naa na tay mga sightings anang mga cobraha diri,” he said.

(In Cebu, based on record, they are not here. But there have been sightings since 2014, we have sightings of that kind of cobra here.)

Cobras not endemic in Cebu

He also said that cobras are not endemic in Cebu.

“Karon, based on record, naa sa Bohol. Daghan na sa Bohol kanang samarensis ug kanang King Cobra pero og based lang gyud sa history, wala man gyud ta ana,” he added.

(Now, based on record, they are in Bohol. There are many in Bohol, the one called samarensis and that King Cobra but that is only based on history, we really don’t have that here.)

Moreover, he said that King Cobras were prevalent in Australia and Africa. But anywhere in the world, they exist.

cobras philippines

King Cobra frequent areas where they can get food, which are usually rats. | AFP FILE PHOTO

READ: Farmer dies after he is bitten by a snake in Barili 

Where can they be seen?

Manlegro said that snakes have the characteristic to hide, and they do not usually stay in crowded places.

They stay in places where they can have access to their food like rodent animals like rats in forested areas.

This is also why in some rural areas, there are residents who get bitten by cobras because they store some coconut husks where rats may possibly stay.


“Because of population growth, ang encounter of cobras or snakes on humans kay daghan na gyud kaayo. That’s why daghan kaayo’g balita bahin anang cobra.”


“Ikaw, if farmer ka, magkuha ka didto og bunot, of course wala ka kahibalo, mapaakan ka. Mao na’y possibility,” he added.

(You, if you are a farmer, then you will get husks there, of course, you don’t know [that there is a snake there], you get bitten. That is a possibility.)

However, the other problem is because of population growth, he said.

“Because of population growth, ang encounter of cobras or snakes on humans kay daghan na gyud kaayo. That’s why daghan kaayo’g balita bahin anang cobra,” he said.

(Because of population growth, the encounter between cobras or snakes and humans have increased. That’s why there are many news about this cobra.)

Capture cobras

Manlegro said that DENR let the cobras survive in their “natural habitat.”

“Dili nato na sila e disturb. Ang ato lang is katong mga turnover nga mga cobra unya ang kanang turnover nga cobra, tan awon nato na if healthy siya so ato nang e release back to the wild na pod,” he said.

(We cannot disturb them. What we have are those cobras that were turned over and we will check them if they are healthy so that we can release them back to the wild.)

He said that they would just want to rehabilitate them, then release them back to where they came from.

He said that if people would have “sightings” of cobras, he encouraged the public to call the DENR to help them capture it, so the DENR could release them back to their origin. 

READ:  Snake bite kills young boy in Leyte, grieving sister pleads for anti-venom supply in rural areas

Two kinds of snake bites

Moreover, Manlegro told CDN that not all people who would be bitten by cobras would die.

“Naay uban nga dry bite kanang dili masudlan og venom. Swerte na sila nga mga tawo,” he said.

(There are others that are called a dry bite or those who are bitten with no venom. Those people are lucky.)

“Pero mostly, og maklaro gyud nila og paak, masudlan gyud na og venom (venomous bite). Pila ka milliliters lang, patay gyud ka,” he added.

(But mostly, if they can really bite, then the venom can enter (venomous bite). Just a few milliliters, then they would really die.)

Cobras are ‘highly intelligent’

Manlegro said that cobras are actually “highly intelligent” snakes.

He said that they “do not attack unless provoked.”

Because he said that the snakes would not attack unless they would be protecting something, especially their food.

“Og naay nagpuyo dinha nga cobra, di ka ma problema anang mga ilaga sa basakan (rice field). It’s because mao mana’y ilang (cobras) kinaon. So, nakatabang sila nato in a way nga ma minimize ang ilang pagkuha (rats) sa mga humay.”


READ: Alarm raised as dozens of king cobras killed

Cobras and ricefields

Manlegro said that cobras would also be helpful in keeping the rice fields safe from the rats.

“Og naay nagpuyo dinha nga cobra, di ka ma problema anang mga ilaga sa basakan (rice field). It’s because mao mana’y ilang (cobras) kinaon. So, nakatabang sila nato in a way nga ma minimize ang ilang pagkuha (rats) sa mga humay,” he said.

(If they can get cobras there, you will not have problems of rats in the ricefields. It’s because that is what they (cobras) will eat. So, they can help in a way that they can minimize them (rats) in the ricefield.)

Justice for cobras

“Ang ato lang is mahatagan og justice kay sometimes, ang tan-aw man gud sa tawo sa snake, bati na gyud kaayo,” he added.

(What we just like is that they can be given justice because sometimes, people see the snakes, as something bad.)

He said that at least snakes would be given justice to be acknowledged as “part of this world.”

Number one predators of rats

“They are the number one predators sa mga ilaga para at least malimit ang pagkaon sa ilaga sa mga humay para naay makaon ang tawo,” he added.

(They are the number one predators of rats so that at least they can limit the rats eating in the ricefields so that more people can have more rice to eat.)

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TAGS: Cobras, King Cobra, Philippine Cobra, Samar Cobra

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