This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Fight of ichneumon and cobra

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Claudius Aelianus presents the struggle of ichneumon (Egyptian mongoose, also called the pharaoh’s rat) with a cobra. Ichneumon does not move to attack the enemy without caution and rashly. Just as a man can defend himself in full gear, the ichneumon is first rolled in the mud until it is covered with a hard shell, which serves him as a safe and tight protection. If the mud is missing, it is washed with water and the whole wet one dips deep into the sand – only then it starts to fight.

When it finds iself in trouble, thereis another strategy. The tip of the nose, sensitive and exposed to the cobra’s bite, protects in the way it has tried: it bends the tail forward and covers the nose, separating it from the attack of the cobra. If the cobra manages to reach him, the animal falls prey to it; if not, cobra sticks its teeth into a layer of mud, because the ichneumon sneaks in and suddenly throws itmself at the enemy, grabs it by the throat and suffocates. The one who hits the first wins.

  • McKeown J. C., A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the World's Greatest Empire, 2010

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.


News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: