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Rare Reptile Reaches Milestone

1 September 2014

Cobsy, Melbourne Zoo's Black-lipped Cobra has turned 35, but this was a celebration with no treats or toys!

During the cold winter, Cobsy is in torpor and has no appetite, so it could be another month or more before he has his first spring feed.

But it was nonetheless a major milestone as Cobsy is the oldest known Black-lipped Cobra living at a zoo in the world.

The average expected life span in the wild for this and other cobra species is about 20 years, which could very well mean that Cobsy is the oldest Black-lipped Cobra on the planet!

He was born on August 31, 1979 at the Bronx Zoo in New York, and  came to Melbourne in 1982.

Reptile Keepers treat him with a high degree of respect, due to his dangerous neurotoxic venom, but they are nonetheless fond of this longterm resident.

Reptile Keeper Nick says Cobsy has a very laidback personality with a ‘cruisy’ attitude and he’s such a homebody that when he is given his regular exercise sessions he often returns to his exhibit of his own accord.

Black-lipped Cobras are the largest true cobra species native to Africa.  Cobsy measures about 2.4m in length, close to the maximum recorded length of 2.7m.

They are native to South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

Black-lipped Cobra are also known as Forest Cobras and are most frequently found among the thick vegetation in lowland forest or coastal savannah thickets.  They are noted for their climbing ability, often seen resting on the branches of shrubs or trees, having been spotted 30m up in the branches.

They will eat a wide variety of food: frogs, toads, rodents and other small mammals, birds, other snakes, and fish.

Worldwide, there are only 23 of this species displayed in just 16 zoos in four regions (Australasia, Africa, North American, and Europe). 

You can see Cobsy along with many other snakes and reptiles exclusively at Melbourne Zoo's Reptile House.