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Kraits Cobras Sea Snakes and Relatives: Elapidae

Physical Characteristics

The cobras, kraits (KRYTS), sea snakes, death adders, and other members of this family are venomous (VEH-nuh-mus), or poisonous, snakes that vary in length from just 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) to 16 feet, 8 inches (5 meters). Despite their many differences, all of the snakes in this family, known as elapids (EH-luh-puds), are alike in some ways. They each have two "fixed" fangs, or long, pointed teeth that cannot move, at the front of the mouth. These short fangs are always pointed downward and ready to inject venom. Elapids are mostly thin snakes with heads that are about the same size around as their necks and with large scoots, or scales, down the back. Many cobras are well known for their ability to spread out their necks into a sort of hood.

Some elapids are brightly colored; others are not. Some have stripes, but others are just one color. Still others have side-to-side bands of color. The coral snakes, for example, often have bright bands of different colors.

Additional topics

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