The Jakarta Post
Cobras have caused a scare among people living in the Royal Citayem housing complex in Bojong Gede district, Bogor regency, West Java.
More than 30 cobras measuring an average of 30 centimeters had been caught in the area in the past week, according to locals.
Following the discovery, students were accompanied by adults when going to school and a regular pengajian (Quran reading gathering) in the housing complex was postponed.
The venomous snake was reportedly found in a garden located in the back of the housing complex.
Creeping cobras were also reported in Ciracas, East Jakarta, Klaten in Central Java, Gunungkidul in Yogyakarta, and Jember in East Java over the past few weeks.
Reptile observer Arbi Krisna said the appearance of cobras was unsurprising as most snake eggs hatched this time of year.
“November until January is when snake eggs hatch. The process is preceded by laying eggs about one or two months beforehand,” he said on Tuesday, kompas.com reported.
Therefore, he suggested that people clean their living areas, especially moist, dark and quiet places, which were the preferred spots for cobras to lay their eggs.
Similar to Arby, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) herpetologist Amir Hamidy said the appearance of cobras on the island of Java did not come as a surprise as the reptile tended to seek fertile soil to inhabit.
Due to land transformation years ago, cobras have adapted to living in open areas such as rice fields, where their prey, mice, were very likely to be found.
A cobra can breed up to 20 eggs at a time. It will lay its eggs to hatch alone.
“Should the egg hatch, little cobras can go anywhere,” he said.
Just last month, Rendy Arga of Depok died after being bitten by his pet cobra. The 18-year-old boy did not immediately seek medical treatment after getting bitten and within two hours his hand felt numb.
Rendy died four days after the incident.
Tri Maharani, a doctor who focuses on treating snakebites and is an adviser to the World Health Organization, said there were two types of cobras living in Indonesia.
“Naja sputatrix [Javan-spitting cobra] and Naja sumatrana [equatorial-spitting cobra],” she said on Monday, kompas.com reported.
She went on to say that venom from a snake could spread easily in a person's body if not treated properly.
She stressed that after getting bitten by a cobra, a person should immediately lay down to prevent the venom from spreading through their lymph gland and get assistance to go the nearest hospital.
Cardiotoxin and neurotoxin are the types of cobra venom that cause the most frequent fatal cases in Indonesia, she said. The more venom entering a person's body, the higher chance they had of dying.
A relatively small amount of venom that does not spread to the entire body, however, can be excreted within three days.
A person who is bitten by a cobra will feel sleepy. It is difficult for them to open their eyes because their eyelid muscles and vocal cords are paralyzed. They will also experience shortness of breath, she said.
With a lack of understanding among the public and officials in handling snakebite cases, she said improving public awareness was important to suppress the number of fatal cases in the country. (sau)