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The king cobra is the worlds longest venomous snake, that can be as large as 18 ft, and with venom powerful enough to kill an elephant.This species lives throughout southeast Asia and parts of India but found mostly in forest areas.It's genus name ophiophagus literally means "snake-eater" because it's diet primarily consists of other snakes, including sizeable pythons and even smaller members of its own species.It's venom is primarily neurotoxic and the snake is fully capable of killing a human with a single bite.
The king cobra is a large and powerful snake, averaging 3.6-4m(12-13 feet) in length and typically weighing about 6kg(13.3 lb).A particualarly large specimen was kept captive at london zoo and grew to 5.7m (18.8 ft) before being euthanized upon the outbreak of the secound world war.The skin is either olive green, tan or black and it has a faint, pale yellow cross bands down the length of the body.The belly is cream or pale yellow, and the scales are smooth.The head of a mature snake can be quite massive and bulky in appearence, though like all snakes they can expand their jaws to swallow large prey.The male is larger and thicker than the female.The average lifespan of a King cobra is 20 years.
It is widespread but not common, across south and south-east Asia.It lives in dense highland forests.The snake has a preference for living in areas dotted with streams and lakes.King cobra populations have dropped in some areas due to the destruction of forests, but despite this snake is not listed by the IUCN as in danger of becoming extinct.
King cobras, like other snakes, recieve chemical information ("smell") via their forked tounges, which can pick up scent particles and transfer them to a special sensory receptor located in the roof of its mouth.When the scent of a meal is detected, the snake will flick its tounge to gauge the prey's direction(the twin forks on its tounge acting in stereo) will also rely on its keen eyesight(King cobras are able to detect moving prey almost 100 m [300 ft] away), intelligence and sensitivity to earth borne vibration to track its prey.Following envenomation, the King cobra will begin to swallow its struggling prey while its toxins begin to digesting the victim.Like other snakes the king cobra does not chew its food instead it swallows its prey whole.King cobras are able to hunt at all times of the day although they are rarely seen at night.
The King cobra's diet mainly consists of other snakes both venomous including krait and non-venomous including python.When food is scarce, they might also feed on small vertabrates such as lizards, birds and rodents.In some cases it might constrict its prey like birds and larger rodents using its muscular body but this is uncommon.After a large meal the snake may live for many months due to its slow metabolic rate.The King cobras favourite meal is the ratsnake.
The King Cobra's venom, which is composed mostly of proteins and polypeptides, is produced in specialized salivary glands (as is the case with all venomous reptiles) just behind the animal's eyes. When biting its prey, venom is forced through the snake's half-inch (1.25 cm) fangs and into the wound. Although its venom is not the most toxic one, a King Cobra's size enables it to inject larger quantities of venom than most other species. On a single bite, it injects as much as 6 to 7 ml of venom.The large amount of venom in a single bite allows the King Cobra to kill faster and to kill larger animals than other serpents. The King Cobra can kill up to five times faster than the black mamba, so it just takes a few minutes to kill a human, and it can even kill an Asian Elephant within three hours if the larger animal is bitten in a vulnerable area such as the trunk.The King Cobra's venom is primarily neurotoxic and thus attacks the victim's central nervous system and quickly induces severe pain, blurred vision, vertigo, drowsiness, and paralysis. In one to two minutes, cardiovascular collapse occurs, and the victim falls into a coma. Death soon follows due to respiratory failure. There are two types of antivenin made specifically to treat King Cobra envenomations. The Red Cross in Thailand manufactures one, and the Central Research Institute in India manufactures the other; however, both are made in small quantities and are not widely available. Ohanin, a protein component of the venom, causes hypolocomotion and hyperalgesia in mammals. Other components have cardiotoxic, cytotoxic and neurotoxic effects.
Despite the King Cobra's fearsome reputation and deadly bite, it is a shy and reclusive animal, avoiding confrontation with humans as often as possible. There are other venomous snakes within this species' range, in fact, that are responsible for more fatal snake bites than the King Cobra, such as the Monocled Cobra, or Russell's Viper .
In Burma, King Cobras are often used by female snake charmers.The charmer is usually tattooed with three pictograms using an ink mixed with snake venom; superstition holds that it protects the charmer from the snake. The charmer kisses the snake on the top of its head at the end of the show.
The female king cobra is a very dedicated parent. Before she is ready to lay her eggs, she uses the coils of her long body to gather a big mound of leaf litter. She deposits 20–40 eggs into the mound, which acts as an incubator. The female stays with her eggs and guards the mound tenaciously, rearing up into a threat display if any large animal gets too close.
Inside the mound that the female has built the eggs are incubated at a steady 28℃. When the eggs start to hatch, instinct causes her to leave the nest and find prey to eat so that she does not eat her young.
The King Cobra belongs to the family Elapidae. There are over 200 species of elapid found around the world, excepting Antarctica and Europe. All are venomous and have short, fixed fangs (proteroglyphs), but may differ widely in habits, behaviour and appearance. Four better known species of the Elapidae are the Coral Snake, Death Adder, Black mamba, and of course, the King Cobra.
Top 15 venomous species of cobra
- Philippine cobra
- Ashe's spitting cobra
- Egyptian cobra
- Red spitting cobra
- Mozambique spitting cobra
- King cobra
- Spectacled cobra
- Black cobra
- Forest cobra
- Monocled cobra
- Black-necked spitting cobra
- Cape cobra
- Chinese cobra
- Central Asian cobra