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King Cobra

The King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the longest venomous snake in the world. It lives in rainforests, tropical deciduous forests, tropical scrub forests, and tropical grasslands of India, southern China and Southeast Asia. It can slither on land, climb on trees and swim. Its life span is of about 20 years.

When the snake is threatened or on the attack, it will hiss, rear up, and flatten its neck ribs into a hood. There are false eyespots on the hood, which can scare some predators. On a single bite, it injects as much as 6 to 7 ml of venom, enough to kill an elephant or 20 people. Its hollow fangs are up to 1.25 cm long. When it bites, the poison is forced through the fangs into the victims blood stream.

The King Cobra has been found up to 18 feet (5.5 m) long. Adults are yellow, green, brown or black in color. The throat is light yellow or cream-colored. The snake smells using its forked tongue. Even though it is deaf to sounds, it can feel vibrations (like footsteps).

The King Cobra is a carnivore (meat eater). It swallows the prey whole, head first. The top and bottom jaws are joined to one another with stretchy ligaments, which let the snake swallow animals wider than itself. Food is digested by very strong acids in the snake's stomach. It mainly eats cold-blooded animals, including snakes (like the rat snake) and lizards.

Female King Cobras build a leafy nest early in spring. They lay up to 20 to 50 white, leathery eggs.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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