Science

Top 10 Astonishing Facts about King Cobra

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One of the most common fears is ophidiophobia – the fear of snakes. And when it comes to King Cobra, even a bodybuilder is bound to get goosebumps. No snake in this world has esteem as daunting as the King Cobra. The King Cobra is well-known because of its massive size and bulky appearance but there is more to the King than just this. Here are 10 top facts that you never knew about King Cobra

Fact #1 King Cobra is the Longest Venomous Snake

Besides its toxic venom, cobra’s size is enough to frighten anyone. A mature king is the longest venomous snake on the entire planet.This species can grow up to 5.7 meters (18.8 feet) long; with males being longer and thicker than females. New York Zoological Park came across the heaviest King Cobra weighing 28 pounds i.e. 12.7 kilograms in 1972.

Fact #2 King Cobra is not the most venomous

King Cobras are not the most venomous snakes but they sure are deadly. A king cobra can releases enough poison to kill 20 grown men in a single bite. In fact, the venom is so deadly that it can kill a human in close to 25 minutes. The venom of the King Cobra targets the central nervous system which eventually causes organ failure and a painful death.

Fact #3 Hunting Skills

King Cobra has been known to adapt to various climatic conditions without a problem. What makes them so comfortable in all kinds of climate? The answer lies in their skilled hunting tactics and powerful venom. With both these things combine, it can find food and thus survive quite easily in any kind of environment.

King Cobra used their tongue to pick the scent and pass it to a special sensory receptor organ called Jacobson’s organ which is located on the top of their mouth to detect and locate the direction of its prey.

Moreover, they have excellent eyesight as compared to other snakes. They can see up to 330 feet and this obviously gives them an edge. King Cobras are very good swimmers and are lighting fast. They can raise one-third of their body off the ground to scare off their predator. They can still move forward while their body raised off the ground and can strike at longer distances. Most of the time victims misjudge the saver zone and get bitten. King Cobra may bite multiple times in a single attack.

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Fact #4 Where are they Found?

King Cobras are native to India and can be found in the major parts of the country especially the east and north-east parts. This marvellous snake can also be found in the neighbouring countries of Nepal, a few parts of China, Thailand and Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

King Cobras live in the highland dense forest and are commonly found around water bodies likes streams and lakes. However, the population of King Cobras has declined due to the destruction of forests.

Against the contrary belief that the King Cobra, like other Cobras, belong to the Naga genus, King Cobra has its own genus called Ophiophagus which means snake eating in Greek.

Fact #5 The Vaccination

Yes, we do have vaccines for King Cobra’s bites but unfortunately, there are just 2 of them available. One is manufactured in Thailand while the other is manufactured in India. King Cobra does not usually fight humans and fleas away but if cornered, the King Cobra takes it signature defence stance, erects one-third of its body which is almost equal to the average human height, looks the attacker in the eyes and gives a warning sound. This is the time you should be backing off slowly and saving your life.

Fact #6 King Cobra Behaviour

Though King Cobras have a frightening reputation. But generally, they are very shy and avoid confrontation as much as possible. When confronted they will try to escape. But nesting female is an exception and can attack very readily.

King Cobras are not a threat to humans as generally they are not aggressive and try to flee to avoid threats, but they are very dangerous if they bite and can lead to death very quickly.

King Cobras venom is neurotoxic and has the capability to kill an elephant in a matter of just some hours. It attacks the brain and respiratory system and death occur due to respiratory and cardiac failure.  However, if immediate treatment and anti-venoms are given death can be avoided.

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Fact #7 The King Cobra’s Diet

King Cobra’s diet mainly consists of other snakes like rat snake and small pythons. They generally avoid venomous snakes but do not hesitate to eat other venomous snakes like cobras and Kraits if they come across their path. When food is rare to find they will even eat lizards, frogs and rats. They also eat birds, eggs and chickens.

King Cobras have a slow metabolic rate and can survive for many months without eating after having a large meal. Like other snakes, they also swallow their prey from head and food is digested by strong acids in their stomach.

Fact #8 Mother King Cobras

King Cobras mating season runs from January to April. In contrast to other snakes, King Cobra mothers are very dedicated and make a nest for their eggs. They protect their eggs delicately and get very aggressive if someone tries to harm their eggs.

They lay between 20 to 40 eggs in the nest and remains there until they hatch. It takes around 60 to 90 days to hatch the eggs. Once the eggs start to hatch the mothers leaves the nest and leave babies on their own.

Fact #9 Young King Cobra

Baby King Cobras when born are between 18 to 22 inches long. They become independent as soon as they are born and have as much venom as their parents, thus are capable to hunt from birth. But many young king cobras fall prey to mongooses, civet cats, the giant centipedes and even birds like eagles and hawks.

Fact #10 Myths and Beliefs

There are many myths in India related to snakes. Snakes are widely worshipped in India and have religious significance.  It is believed in India that King Cobras have an exceptional memory.

According to a myth, the picture of the killer stays in the eyes of the king cobra and it is used by the partner to find the killer and take revenge by killing him.

In Burma, King cobras are used by female charmers. They tattoo their upper bodies with ink mixed with King cobras venom, believing that it would save them from the snake. These snake charmers kiss the head of the king cobra to end the show.

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Some more Random facts about the King Cobra:

  • King Cobras are not only good at the climbing trees they are very good swimmers also, that’s why are usually found near water.
  • King cobras are diurnal snakes. They remain active during the daytime and after sunset, they take shelter under logs, buttress roots, or termite mounds.
  • Breeding takes place when the two snakes twist their bodies together and can last for days in this position. Females king cobras wait approximately 55 days before laying eggs.
  • The lifespan of King Cobras is about 20 years.
  • The King Cobras are the only spices of snakes in the world that build a nest for their eggs.
  • The King Cobras are listed as vulnerable species which is one step above endangered. The largest threat to the king cobra is the loss of habitat due to deforestation. It is also hunted for its meat and skin and its bile is also used as an ingredient in traditional medicines.
  • 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
  • Juvenile or young king cobras are shiny black stripped by narrow yellow bands. As they grow older, they acquire the famous olive green colour of a King Cobra. However, it may take some time until a young King Cobra can display its notorious hood
  • The King Cobras are legally protected in India.