When you hear the name “King Cobra“, you get goosebumps, right ? It’s normal, this snake is one of the most famous and discussed in the world. But this one is above all considered to be very dangerous.
There is a lot of data about it, but some of them are unclear or even inaccurate. Through our article, we have gathered all the information about this fascinating reptile so that you can learn more about it.
We will answer all the most frequently asked questions such as : Is the King Cobra venomous ?; How long does it live ?; What does it eat or Where does it live ?
After reading this article, you will know everything about the subject and how to react if you come across one. Let’s go right away to discover this mysterious snake.
What Is a King Cobra ?
The King Cobra is the largest venomous snake that exists. It is part of the Elapidae family.
This ophidian has a life span of 20 years. It is distinguished from other snakes by its intelligence and cunning. It also has an excellent visual acuity, which makes it an outstanding hunter. It is one of the rare snakes (with the Black Mamba) to be territorial, which gives them a reputation of dangerous and aggressive reptile. In fact, unlike other snakes, they are less likely to run away from danger, preferring to face it to protect their territory.
What Does a King Cobra Look Like ?
King Cobra Size
Its average size varies between 9.8ft and 16.4ft (3m to 5m) with a weight of about 13.2lb (6kg). The largest Cobra found (in captivity) was at London Zoo and reached a size of 19.02ft (5.8m).
In the wild, the largest Cobra observed was about 15.7ft (4.8m) and was captured at the Royal Island Club, Singapore, in 1951, weighing 26lb (12kg). The size and weight of the King Cobra depends on its location and certain factors. Also, males are larger and wider than females. Despite its large size, this snake is fast and agile.
Description & Features
Their scales are black, brown or olive green, with light yellow transverse stripes all over their body. Their belly color is pale yellow or cream and their scales are smooth.
When born, juveniles are shiny black with narrow yellow stripes (not to be confused with the Congraded Krait).
The head of the adult King Cobra can be very large compared to its overall size and like any snake, when it feeds, its jaws can open to swallow animals larger than it.
In its mouth, there are 2 sharp fangs that allow it to inject venom to its prey when it bites it.
has 15 rows of dorsal scales. Males have 235-250 ventral scales, while females have 239-265. The subcaudal scales are individual or in pairs in each row, the numbering is 83-96 in males and 77-98 in females.
Where Does a King Cobra Live ?
The King Cobra lives in the most impenetrable tropical forests and also in accessible parks and gardens. It is present up to 6600ft of altitude (2000m)
The vast majority of them inhabit the continents of Asia and Africa. In Africa, it is in the south where a large number of this species can be found, with a total of 23 different species of the same genus..
What Does a King Cobra Eat ?
The generic name of its species, Ophiophagus, comes from the Greek and means “snake eater”. The diet of the King Cobra is almost exclusively other snakes, including Asian Rat Snakes, Pythons smaller than itself, Indian Cobras and even small King Cobras.
When snakes are scarce, it will feed on small vertebrates such as lizards, birds and small rodents. It is known that in some cases, although it is not a constrictor snake, this Cobra can strangle its prey with its body muscles (especially birds and rodents) but this behavior is very rare. Its favorite food remains rat snakes, which is a problem because they sometimes enter inhabited places to look for them.
How do King Cobras catch their prey ?
The King Cobra is a diurnal reptile. It uses its forked tongue to detect its prey. This tongue receives odorant particles that allow it to track its prey.These particles are then sent to the Jacobson’s organ, located at the top of its mouth.
When It has detected a prey, it sticks out its tongue to measure its distance. Its sharp eyesight allows it to detect movement up to 328ft (100m) away. In addition to its tongue and sight, it also uses its intelligence and earth vibrations to track its prey.
After injecting its venom, it begins to swallow its prey while it is still alive and the toxins begin to take effect. Like all snakes, the jaw of the King Cobra is flexible. The bones are connected by flexible ligaments, allowing the two parts to move independently. This allows it to swallow all of its prey, including those larger than its head, without having to cut it up.
King Cobra Defense
The King Cobra is a snake that tries to flee quickly when confronted with a threat. But if disturbed enough, it will become very aggressive.
When it feels threatened, it lifts itself vertically, usually about a third of the way up its body, shows its fangs and makes a small hissing sound. It is not difficult for this snake to feel threatened, it is enough for an animal or a person to approach it by making sudden movements. This is one of the reasons why many humans get bitten.
As it is a stealthy snake, it inhabits the areas of the forest less populated by humans. It rarely encounters humans, so most people who have been bitten by the king cobra are snake lovers or people who capture them for display.
If It encounters one of its natural predators, such as mongooses, which are resistant to its venom, it will try to escape at all costs, but if it cannot, it will place itself in a threatening position, extend its hood and hiss, these attempts work most of the time, as it is more dangerous than any other natural prey of mongooses.
The hiss of the King Cobra is relatively low compared to other cobras, and this is one of the reasons why many people compare this hiss to a small growl. While most snakes’ hisses have a wide range of frequencies from about 3,000 to 13,000 Hz with an average of 7,500 Hz, the king cobra’s frequencies are less than 2,500 Hz, with an average frequency around 600 Hz.
Are King Cobras venomous ?
King Cobra venom is very toxic and can be fatal if not treated very quickly. If bitten, the victim can receive a large amount of venom with a dose ranging from 200 to 500 mg.
Its venom contains mainly neurotoxins and cardiotoxins. Like other poisonous animals, it is composed of proteins and polypeptides. The degree of toxicity can vary according to individuals and regions.
Many anti-venomous serums have been developed to counteract the poison of the King Cobra after a bite. In Thailand, an antivenom made from alcohol and the root of the turmeric plant was created. It has been clinically shown to be effective in creating a strong resistance against the venom of this and other snakes that possess neurotoxic venom. Although it is dangerous, it prefers to flee rather than attack, and will only do so if the situation does not allow it to flee.
King Cobra Bite
It can bite more than once in a single attack, but it is known that it is mostly adults that bite and can stay a few seconds biting the victim. Although it is dangerous, it prefers to flee rather than attack, and will only do so if the situation does not allow it to flee.
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King Cobra Reproduction Facts
The King Cobra is oviparous. It is one of the few snakes along with some pythons to build a nest and incubate the eggs until they hatch. The female lodges around dry brush (dead leaves of bamboo) and, by squeezing them into a single pile with her large body, she obtains a pile of branches that warms up as it decomposes, which ensures the eggs a stable and correct temperature.
Two months after mating, the female will lay between 20 and 40 eggs in the spring, which take between 60 and 80 days to hatch. The babies are between 17.7in and 23.6in (45 and 60cm) when they hatch. They are marked with white and black stripes and are already venomous. As king cobras are snake eaters by instinct, the mother leaves the young shortly before they hatch to avoid eating them, especially as she has not eaten for two months.
The male is also unique in that he guards the nest until the young hatch, protecting a large area around the nest.
Juveniles are always alert and nervous, being quite aggressive to any threat.
And there you have it, you now know the King Cobra in all its facets. You will have understood that this ophidian is a particularly cunning animal that attacks its prey intelligently. Unlike most other snake species, its aggressive behavior makes it one of the most deadliest snakes for humans. So, a piece of advice, don’t measure yourself against it if you meet one on your way.
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