Asp is a common name for a venomous snake of the cobra species. Also called the Egyptian Cobra, it is found throughout Africa. The Asp was worshipped in ancient Egypt and was used as the symbol on the crown of the pharaohs. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra is believed to have killed herself with an asp. Other venomous snakes also known as Asps include the European Asp, or Asp Viper, and the Horned Sand Viper. See Cobra; Viper. Scientific classification: The Asp belongs to the family Elapidae and is classified as Naja haje. The European Asp, classified as Vipera aspis, and the Horned Sand Viper, classified as Cerastes cornuta, belong to the family Viperidae.
The European asp (Vipera aspis), one of approximately 60 species of vipers, ranges throughout the Mediterranean region of Europe but can be found as far north as Sweden. This moderately sized viper is characterized by a broadly triangular head covered by small scales and a vertically shaped pupil. When threatened the European asp will exhibit a hissing behavior accompanied by rapid, forward jerks of the head. The venom of this snake contains only a hemotoxin which affects the blood vessels and associated tissues and causes death by stopping the heart.
The Death Adder, Acanthopis antarcticus, is a large venomous snake also in the Cobra species family, Elapidae. It inhabits Australia and New Guinea and, unlike other cobras, resembles a viper in that it has a broad, triangular head and a short tail. Up to 80 cm (31.5 in) in length, the death adder is grayish brown with dark bands. Its small eyes, and scales protruding from the eyebrow, give a threatening appearance. A much feared snake, the Death Adder has extremely potent venom, and nearly 50 percent of untreated bites in humans result in death, attributed to respiratory arrest. The female is viviparous, typically bearing 10 to 12 live young.
The Spitting Cobra is any of several cobra species that are capable to “shoot” venom from their fangs. They do this only when they feel threatened. The sprayed venom is harmless on mammals skin, but if it reaches the eyes it can blind the target.
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For further discussion on snakes, scientific classifications, venom research and much more, check the resources available in “The New Encyclopedia of Snakes”, available on Amazon.com.