Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cobra Snake

Know King CobraThe King Cobra, found in India is the largest venomous snake in the world. In a single bite it can inject enough venom to kill an elephant - up to 6 - 7 ml. This is enough to kill up to 20 people. The venom of King Cobras has a paralyzing effect on the nerves and has been used to develop painkillers used to treat arthritis in humans.

Mythological Significance
The King Cobra is worshipped in India, particularly on the festive occasion of Nag Panchami and is depicted in sculptures on temple walls and celebrated in myth and legend. King Cobra also garlands the neck of Lord Shiva. The King Cobra or Nag is seen in numerous images of Hindu worship.

Physical Feature

King Cobras grow to an average length of 3.7 m (12 ft). The longest recorded King Cobra was 5.58 m. When threatened the King Cobra reacts by putting on a threat display. It rises to one-third the length of its body, spreads its hood and emits a hissing noise. The King Cobra has scales covering its skin and looks shiny but is dry to touch. Adults are yellow, green, brown, or black; the throat is light yellow or cream-colored. Young King Cobras, which are about 14 inches long, have bright markings on their bodies. They often have yellow, white or black bands across their bodies. These bright bands fade with time to become the broad chevron like markings seen on adult cobras.


The King Cobra moves by slithering and sliding. Though it usually tries to escape when disturbed, when angered it stands menacingly with one-third of its body erect, and its hood spread. It is regarded as a fierce and aggressive snake, and tea-garden workers often encounter it in the North East of India.

King Cobras can rise up to one-third their length and look for prey or as a defensive gesture. Male King Cobras wrestle with each other in ritual mating contests for a female cobra. King Cobras are the only snakes that make nests for their eggs. The female snake or Queen brings together a pile of leaves. As the leaves decay they generate heat, which keeps the eggs warm. The Queen lays 20-40 eggs in the base of the nest and curls up above them to keep them warm till they hatch. The eggs are incubated for 2 month During this time the Queen will defend her nest from any predators. The Queen leaves the nest just before the young snakes emerge from their eggs. In India the traditional belief is that King Cobras mate for life. King Cobras shed their skin several times a year in a process known as ecdysis.

Habitat & Diets

The King Cobra is generally found in deep jungles and mild cool climates with a lot of humidity. Thick undergrowth, cool swamps and bamboo clusters. Cobras prefer to avoid human habitation. The destruction of their habitat has led to increased human cobra conflict. Cobras can slide up trees and bushes and spend a significant amount of time above the ground, looking for prey.

The King Cobra eats mice, rats, snakes, lizards, birds, frogs and fish. Like all snakes, they swallow the prey whole, head first. The top and bottom jaws are attached to each other with stretchy ligaments, which let the snake swallow animals wider that itself. Snakes can't chew their prey; food is digested by very strong acids in the snake's stomach. It can go without food

Key Factors
Family: Elapidae
Zoological name: Ophiophagus hannah
Indian Cobra: Naja Naja
Spitting Cobra: Naja Nigricollis
Egyptian Cobra : Naja Haje
Range : King Cobras are found across South East Asia from India through Southern China, Vietnam Malaysia Indonesia and the Philippines. The largest recorded King Cobras have been found in peninsular Malaysia.
Estimated population : Exact numbers of King Cobra population in India are unknown. They are considered an endangered species.

Major Sites
The King Cobra is found and Malaysia, India, Africa, China. In India, the king Cobra can be found in the National Parks and Reserves of Buxa, Corbett, Manas, Namdhapa, Simlipal, and the Sunderbans.

Tourists can see King Cobras at the Snake Park near Chennai in Tami Nadu, on India Wildlife Tours. In the wild King Cobras are found in sanctuaries in South and North Eastern India, but prefer to avoid humans and are not easily seen in the wild.

Present Status
King Cobras are threatened by the reduction of rainforest jungle and bamboo groves. The destruction of their natural habitat has led King Cobras to come into conflict with humans. The fear of the cobra's venom often leads to Cobras being killed as soon as they are seen. Cobras are usually killed due to human encroachment. They are also killed for their skin which is used to make leather items such as belts, purses and bags.