Albino Cobra: Rarest Snake in the World?

Albino Cobras
The legendary Albino Cobra. Photo by Kobchai Matasurawit

Have you ever seen white Cobras in your life?

Well, you might have seen one or two on TV, or on the net, but these legendary Albino Cobras are extremely rare. The popular Chinese news portal,, crowns the Albino Cobra among its Top 10 rarest albino animals in the world. Albinism in general, among animals, is quite rare. Since ancient times they have fascinated us with their awe-inspiring bright white color. Millions of people around the world see them as amazingly beautiful creatures, as they draw huge crowds in almost every Zoo. Some cultures even regard them as sacred, but as a matter of fact, Albinism is a severe disorder that practically robs the skin of color.

For most albino animals, including the Cobras, this rare disorder can become life-threatening as it leaves them without any camouflage, exposing them to predators and enemies. On top of that, add the health factors such as skin cancer that might develop from having ultra white skin. All in all, it definitely isn’t easy to be an albino animal. It would seem logical that these Albino animals need our help and protection, especially if in captivity, but in some rare media stories it is actually portrayed falsely that humans, or other animals, would need protection from the Albino…

Just this last September, a deadly Albino Cobra escaped captivity and ran loose for days in California. In the early stages of the chase, it was reported that the snake had bitten an innocent dog on its path, until it was captured by Animal Control officers. The venom of Cobras can kill within one hour.

It’s needless to mention, that there are hundreds of snakes incidents and snake bites every week across the world. None really make it to the news. However, this story of the Albino Cobra drew so much attention in the media (just google this: “Albino Cobra California”), that it blew my mind away. At least three Twitter accounts were opened just for this runaway Cobra, getting almost 300 followers by the time it was captured. TV reports even showed the Animal Control officers in the midst of their chase using tongs to catch the poor white snake. The Cobra didn’t even hurt anyone. It later turned out that even the dog escaped without a bite, and was actually only hurt while trying to escape from the mighty snake. So why did this Snake become such a media sensation? Is it only because of its perfect white skin?

I guess so.

Want to see the Media-sensation of the Runaway Albino Snake? Watch this L.A Times News clip on YouTube covering the story.

Also ABC covered the story, as you can watch here:

Are Albino Cobras Born White?

The young Albino Cobra is actually born in various colors, and only as it grows and ages it slowly turns lighter and lighter, until it becomes completely white. Native to India, China, Vietnam and other parts in Southeast-Asia, these snakes are known in the scientific world as the Monocled Cobras. This hardly used name was given to them for their O-shaped Monocellate Hood pattern, but the Albino Cobra is definitely a much more notorious and cool name. An adult snake can reach lengths of up to 8 feet, and is usually found in habitats that have water, such as mangroves, swamps, or near lakes, but also in forests and grasslands. The Albino Cobra usually hides in tree holes and places where it can find a nice menu of rodents. Like most Cobras in the wild, it will only strike and attempt to bite if threatened. But when it does, you better not be around. The Monocled Cobra is extremely venomous, with a powerful bite that produces both neurotoxic and cytotoxic venom, causing necrosis and respiratory failure that can quickly lead to death.

However, despite the fear and how dangerous they might seem to us, these White Cobras are extremely important to the ecological cycle of the environments they live in. The fact they eat various sorts of rodents helps to keep and control the rodent population in cities and villages across Southeast Asia. Sadly, these fascinating snakes aren’t respected by humans as they once were. Rapid economic growth in India and China brought about deforestation and habitat destruction, decreasing the numbers of these beautiful rare creatures.

For conclusion, just to remind you on the “Breaking News” of September—it is illegal to own Cobras in California, and the owner of the runaway Albino Cobra that became a Media Star, has never been caught.

In case you feel like getting a FREE Snake Bite First-Aid after reading this, just click here.

For more fast facts about Cobras click here.

For further discussion on snakes, scientific classifications, venom research and much more, check the resources available in “The New Encyclopedia of Snakes”, available on

Click here to take a glimpse at 
“The New Encyclopedia of Snakes” 



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