Of the many reptiles on the planet there are only a select few who can be as deadly as they are skilled. One of these such creatures is the king cobra. But just what is it that separates the king cobra from any other animal, and what are some facts about it? Well why don’t we go ahead and look at the answers to these questions, and as we do be sure to have a pen and paper handy to get down all of those important slithery details.
To begin, the king cobra has long been feared by man and animal alike. There are many superstitions linked to this species of snake, and many tall tales. But just what is it that makes this snake so special? A lot has to do with its sheer size.
The king cobra snake (Ophiophagus Hannah) is simply the world’s largest venomous snake.
Reaching an average length of eighteen feet long, this reptile would have no problem standing on its own and looking a six foot man in the face, eye to eye. They mainly prey on other snakes, and if you don’t live in or around India and southeast Asia, then you probably don’t have to worry about meeting one.
Interestingly enough, although the term “cobra” is used in its name, the king cobra is not of the “Naja” (true cobras), but it has a genus all on its own. While considered to be very dangerous, this snake usually does not like confrontations with humans, and will avoid them if possible.
While they average a solid thirteen pounds, the heaviest one found was twenty eight pounds, and was quite large. Despite their large sizes, a typical king cobra is very fast and quite agile. The color of king cobras is usually olive green, tan, or black and it has faint yellow bands down the length of its neck. While it may be mistaken for other snakes at first glance, it’s expandable hood which opens when threatened would clearly identify it.
Let’s talk about the two most distinct features of a king cobra snake. It’s poison and it’s growling hiss when threatened. If you were walking in a forested area and suddenly hear a fearsome hiss, you may be in for quite a surprise. The snake can make a hiss more like a small growl of a human that is quite fearsome. While king cobras are thought to be mild in temperament, when threatened they can pack a mean punch in every bite. Using their fangs to attack and hold on to their prey they can secrete a poison with fatal consequences.
The venom of a King cobra attacks the central nervous system as a neurotoxin. Symptoms may include severe pain, drowsiness, blurred vision, and paralysis. If serious, it can progress to cardio-vascular collapse and can put the victim into a coma. Death most commonly soon follows due to respiratory failure.
So enough of the scary facts, what about some dietary facts. Are humans on the menu for King Cobras? Well you don’t have to worry, because the simple answer is no. In fact it is really other snakes that have to watch their backs. King cobras are of a special class of snakes from the Greek word Ophiophagus meaning “snake-eater”. It’s diet consists primarily of other snakes, like pythons, true cobras, and its more venomous counterpart the krait. If food is scarce they will dine on other vertebrates like lizards, birds, and rodents.