I'm trying to contact some serpent specialists to confirm or deny the possiblity of this feat.
On the Theological question:
My background is theology which is one of the reason I chose this topic for my article for the magazine.
It should be noted that this feat was done by G!d for Moses (Ex. 4:2-4) as proof of his mission to Pharoah (along with his hand becoming leprous), and it was actually Aaron (Ex. 7:10-12) who performed the feat in Pharoah's presence. Aaron went on to perform all of the rest of the plagues against Egypt as well.
NOTE: The Westcar Papyrus gives the account of a magician changing a wax figure of a crocodile into a living beast and changing it back to wax by taking it up by the tail.
Each of the miracles/plagues against Egypt attacked Egyptian gods in some form. The Egyptians worshipped the Egyptian cobra, and it was a big part of Egyptian life. The first miracle of Aaron -- from a Jewish or Christian point of view -- attacked the snake cult. Further, it took a 'trick' that was commonly performed and used by magicians, and made it into a real miracle (sort of like Tommy Wonder doing the Cups and Balls after 10 or 15 of us had done them :-). The miracle not being the transformation of the rod into a snake, but that Aaron's snake consumed the magician's cobras. Thus eliminating the 'trickery' (the Hebrew suggests covertness, trickery and deceit) used by the Egyptian magi.
Egyptian art work depicts various Pharoahs holding a scepture, which is infact the immobilized Egyptian cobra, according to various sources.
If there is interest... I will post my article under this thread once it is ready. The article is a treatment on originality.
In the Book of Acts, I believe, a "Simon the magician", tries to barter (I think with maybe Paul) for these powers, and is rebuked.
It was actually Peter with whom he bartered. Simon was impressed with the results of Peter laying hands on someone and their receiving of the Holy Ghost (Act 2 explains what happened when someone receives the Holy Ghost).
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.