KING COBRA: 32 FACTS AND TALES
CURIOUS ABOUT THE MOST REVERED SNAKE IN THE WORLD?
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KING COBRA FACTS…
1. What makes it so unique from all other Snakes? King Cobra is the longest venomous snake on the planet. The King, or Hamadryad, as he is sometimes called, holds the record length of 24 feet for a Venomous snake. Bill Haast, the famous Snake and Venom expert who is a great friend of John Klein (founder of Cobras.org), once claimed he encountered a 35-feet King Cobra (!) during the 1960’s. The Hamadryad is also unique for the remarkable fact he is the only snake in the world that makes a nest for its eggs! He scraps up leaves and other debris in which to deposit them, and remains in the nest until the young hatch. Isn’t that remarkable?
2. How heavy can it get? The heaviest known King Cobra was kept at the New York Zoological Park during the 70’s. It weighed 12.7 kg (28 lb) and was 4.4 m (14 ft) long. The male king is usually larger and thicker than the female.
3. Can it really stand up? The King Cobra’s enormous length does not hinder it’s elastic movement though. It is actually a thin snake, with an amazing ability to raise up a third of its entire body and keep on moving forward, attacking and hissing. It will actually stand up and look right into your eyes. Feeling scared?
4. How does a King react? When it feels threatened, the King Cobra and his bronze eyes will flare out his majestic hood and emit a hair-raising hiss. This growling sound by itself will scare off most enemies of the Cobra.
5. Where can it be found? The King Cobra species was first described in 1836 by a Danish naturalist by the name of Theodore Edward Cantor. The King can be found in the Philippines, Malaysia, southern China, Burma, and the Malay Peninsula.
Look at this great BBC clip of a King Cobra encounter:
6. Why is he called “King”? Despite being called King Cobra, he actually belongs to a genus of its own, called Ophipohagus. The King Cobra, or Ophipohagus Hannah, is classified under the Elapidae family. It is not a member of the Naja genus which include most cobra species, known as “true cobras”. The Ophipohagus Hannah has 11 large scales on his head which resemble a King’s crown, hence his majestic name. By the way, Ophiophagus is the latin word for “Snake Eater”. So YES, King Cobras eat other snakes, as you’ll see later…
7. So how do you distinguish the King from all the other Cobras? Well, the King is far larger than other cobras, while its hood is narrower and longer. The easiest way of identifying a King Cobra, is by it’s pair of large scales at the back of its head. These are unique to the King. The colors of King Cobras can vary depending on their geographic location. The Kings in China are usually dark brown or even black, banded with yellow, white or brown. The Kings in India are mostly olive green with yellow bands, while the Kings is Southeast Asia will usually be completely olive green or yellow-green.
8. How does a King bite? The King also has two fixed fangs in the front of his mouth. These deadly fangs are used like needles to inject the venom into its prey. But how strong is the King’s Venom?
The Venom of King Cobra
9. What happens if a King bites? You better not mess with this snake. The King Cobra’s Venom is mostly comprised of neurotoxins. These will brutally attack anyone’s central nervous system. One fatal bite by the King can channel a large amount of venom into its prey. The doses range from 200 to 500 mg and even higher. What happens if you are bitten? The symptoms may include severe pain, vertigo, and up to paralysis or coma. The next stage is respiratory failure, and death. Though uncommon, a King Cobra bite may also cause kidney failure.
10. How fast can it kill? A bite by a King Cobra can lead to death within thirty minutes. One bite can actually kill approximately 20 men. There are even records of King Cobras that have killed elephants in a few hours.
11. Looking for Anti-Venom? There are only two types of anti-venom produced for treating bites by King Cobras. One is manufactured in Thailand by the Red Cross, while the other is made in India by the Central Research Institute.
12. What’s the death rate? According to the Australian Department of Clinical Toxicology in the University of Adelaide, the untreated fatality rate of King Cobra’s victims is 50-60%.
13. Tips for treating a King’s bite? There is some clinical evidence in Thailand that claims a mixture of ground root turmeric with alcohol can act as a strong resilience against the King Cobra’s venom. One more tip given to anyone who accidentally meets a Cobra, is to slowly remove your shirt or hat and throw it to the ground while slowly walking away. However, don’t rely on those tips. If you ever plan to be near a King Cobra, always have a Snake Bite Kit with you. Be aware that the King is always watching…
Does King Cobra Have Super Senses?
14. Does the King have a nose? Like other snakes, the King flicks its tongue to determine its prey’s location. The forked tongue absorbs scent particles and transfers them to the Jacobson’s organ. This organ is a special sensory receptor that consists of two hollow, highly sensitive saclike structures. However, this formidable snake doesn’t only use his smelling abilities to hunt its prey…
15. How far can it see? King Cobras have remarkable eyesight, enabling them to detect moving prey as far as 330 ft (100 m) away. In addition to his advanced smelling and eyesight capabilities, the Ophipohagus Hannah is said to possess one more unique element that makes him ‘King’.
16. Is he that smart? The King Cobra is said to be far more intelligent, active and alert than any other snake on the planet. It reacts immediately and impressively to movements by rearing up one third of his body and focusing on the source of action.
King Cobra Wisdom: Can He Remember Faces?
17. Will a King Hunt Cobra Killers? In India, people claim that the King Cobra has an exceptional memory. One myth claims the widely adored snake can remember the image of a cobra killer. He then uses that memory of that image to hunt down the killer, in revenge. That definitely sounds like a brain behind the snake, and terrifying as well…
18. What’s in his brain? The bone-encased snake brain and sensory organs are contained in the head, equipped with almost all the senses we have. There are however several interesting modifications in the hearing, sight and smell. But how intelligent is the King Cobra?
19. Does he plan his moves? “Ophipohagus Hannah is probably one of the most intelligent reptiles”, says Cobra Master John Klein, former 82nd Airborne division Officer and founder of Cobras.org. Klein owned a King Cobra for 8 years and conducted his own personal observations . Klein describes how the King Cobra strategically approached, attacked and ultimately devoured other snakes, no matter the size or defenses. It made him earn his respect, as a damn smart snake. It seems the King has learning abilities that other snakes just don’t have.
20. How does he eliminate his enemies? Klein also tells of his visit to Thailand, where he witnessed a King Cobra defending it’s “crown” against a variety of enemies. “It was like watching a car accident…incredible, awesome, yet perverse. The cobra was able to dispatch the following adversaries: a Black Mamba using strategy. Some kind of boa with brute force. A ratel with much strategy and gnashing of teeth, and lastly the big battle, against another King Cobra”.
Before we tell you how the battle of Kings ended, watch this riveting clip from Thailand, showing a snake handler kissing a giant King Cobra:
21. King Cobra fights in Asia? Many villagers in Thailand raise King Cobras in wooden cages underneath their houses. In some cases, they participate in shows and fights, including hair-raising boxing fights like the ones described by John Klein.
22. Did a King Kill a King? In the last battle he witnessed between the two Kings, John Klein described how the two Cobras did not even want to fight each other. “Only the prodding and poking of the “handlers” caused them to actually go at it.” However, even then, Klein says, that neither Kings would multiple strike, “as if they knew that it was their “job” to put on a show, but with no real aggressiveness or heart in it.” If that is not pure intelligence, than I don’t know what is. At the end however, “the “champion” did get tired of the abuse from the handlers”, Klein describes, “and realized that he wasn’t going to be left alone until the other cobra was removed, so with a very slow, methodical movement, he slipped his head around behind the others, and put both fangs through the neck right behind the other’s head. The entire “show” seemed oddly staged in that the champion cobra always seemed to know what was expected of it, and how to accomplish it.” This certainly indicates a level of intelligence far above what most would attribute to reptiles in general. This particular snake demonstrated the ability to learn fairly advanced techniques as well as interactive skills. It uses these unique skills to survive in nature, all the time.
23. Is the King an escape artist? An interesting fact from the Zoo World, where the King Cobra is among the most popular reptile attractions: According to many Zoo workers, the King is one of the best break-out professionals in the animal world. Apparently, there have been dozens of cases where King Cobras managed to use their wits to escape captivity…
24. How does he hunt? The smart King is able to hunt throughout the day, and is hardly seen at night. Due to his high alertness and intelligence, the King has the unique ability to pursue fast-moving snakes. After he locates one and bites it, the deadly venom will do the job, and the King Cobra will begin to swallow the prey whole, letting its toxins do the digestion. Like all other snakes, also the King has flexible jaws that can move independently, enabling him to swallow animals that are even larger than himself.
The Menu of King Cobra: Who Does He Eat?
25. Can a King Eat a Cobra? As said, the Ophipohagus Hannah is a ferocious snake eater. Like the King Snake, the King Cobra will seek out and feed on any variety of snakes that cross his path. His favorites are small pythons and rat snakes, but the King will even eat other venomous and poisonous snakes. He has even been known to eat other cobras! However, when there are no snakes to be found, the King will usually hunt small mammals, lizards and birds.
Look at this incredible video of a King Cobra killing another King Cobra:
He might be the most fearsome enemy of many poor animals, but when it comes to his own family, the King is one of a kind…
Is King Cobra The Best Parent of All Snakes?
26. What is the King’s unique instinct? As mentioned earlier, King Cobras are the only snakes in the world that build a nest for their young. The Kings will actually mate during the first three months of the year. After that, the female will use various pieces of vegetation to build a two-room nest, in two layers. She will lay around 20-40 eggs in the lower room, and will later use the upper room to safeguard her future offsprings. The eggs will be faithfully guarded either by her, or her mate. They usually take turns in guarding the nest and hunting. The incubation time will last between 60-90 days. During this crucial time, the Kings will rear up into attack mode whenever a large animal gets too close to the eggs. A fascinating fact relates to the time when the cobra eggs start to hatch. At this exciting point of time, a unique instinct suddenly drives the female King Cobra to leave the nest. Why does she leave? Well, it’s an instinct designed to fight her inner temptation to eat her own babies. She leaves in order to find food for herself, and not eat her offsprings.
27. How strong are baby Kings? Hatchlings will reach average lengths of 20 inch (50 cm), and will have venom that is as strong and powerful as that of adult kings. They can fully defend themselves, exactly like their parents. Baby kings are usually very nervous during their first few weeks, so if disturbed they might become extremely aggressive. Juvenile Kings are shiny black stripped by narrow yellow bands. As they grow older, they acquire the famous olive green color of a King. However, it may take some time until a young King Cobra can display its notorious hood.
28. Is the King shy? Most cobras are shy. They will run and hide when people are around. The exception is King Cobra, who is aggressive, and will rear up and stand his ground when confronted. He will defend his Kingdom at all costs…
The Kingdom of Cobra