A viral GIF shows a newly hatched cobra breaking from its shell, and it’s strangely adorable.
The short video clip shows someone holding a cobra egg in their hand and the little snake stretches out from inside of it.
According to National Geographic, while this baby snake, or “snakelet,” may be adorable, make no mistake — it can deliver a .ᴅ.ᴇᴀᴅʟʏ strike if stressed by the handler. This seemingly innocuous snake possesses lethal venom right out of the shell. Despite their softer side, it’s quite unwise to handle their young.
This snakelet belongs to the Elapid family, which includes coral snakes, cobras, mambas, sea snakes, and kraits. The family of venomous snakes are characterized by their threat display of rearing upward and spreading their neck-flap, along with permanent short, hollow fangs at the front of their mouths.
These snakes are considered some of the world’s most venomous, having potent .ɴᴇᴜ.ʀᴏᴛᴏxɪᴄ venom that immobilizes prey by creating cellular damagᴇ and heart dysfunction. Some members of the family also possess venom containing .ʜᴇᴍᴏ.ᴛᴏxɪɴs which clot and solidify the victim’s ʙ.ʟ.ᴏᴏᴅ.
Venom of hatchlings is indeed as potent as that of adults, and hatchlings tend to be extremely alert and nervous. They’re also more likely to be highly aggressive when disturbed. While this little snakelet may be adorable, we would never recommend holding one like this.
According to The Hindu, IUCN snake specialist Jose Louies explained, “The young cobra has enough venom, fully developed fangs and a poison delivery system sufficient enough to .ᴋ.ɪʟʟ an adult person or cause serious health risks.”