King Of Snakes - The King Cobra
The Snake That I Am in Awe Of
Snakes - I am absolutely terrified of them. Who wouldn't be, except if you are one of those snake-loving herpetologists or hosts that you see on some of Discovery and Nat Geo's shows. However, there is one snake that I've grown to love and admire. I haven't come face-to-face with one yet (not too sure I want to), but I just am totally captivated by this snake. The snake I am talking of is called The King Cobra. The title "King" seems pretty apt for this beautiful and majestic creature. It is one of those snakes that inspires awe and fear and respect, all at the same time.
The King Cobra, or the King of Snakes as it also called, can be found in the forests of Asia, particularly South Asia (India) and China and other South-East Asian countries. The King Cobra can grow to be giant, measuring up to 18 feet. On average though, most King Cobras measure about 12 feet or thereabouts. Either way, they are acknowledged as being the largest venomous snakes around. Yes, venomous they are!!!
King Cobras are even thought to be capable of killing an elephant - that's impressive to say the least. King Cobra venom is of the neurotoxic variety - as in it affects the victim's central nervous system. Death usually occurs as a result of breathing failure or heart failure. Although King Cobra venom is not as deadly as some other venomous snakes, they inject much higher dosages of venom with a single bite. This larger quantity of venom is what allows King Cobras to kill particularly large animals, even elephants. Compared to a black mamba, King Cobras are thought to be able to kill five times faster, mainly because of this ability to inject a much larger dose of venom.
King Cobras are as deadly as they are beautiful, although they are generally shy creatures, who prefer to avoid humans and would rather mind their own business than be aggressive and attack humans. They generally attack only in self-defense or while guarding their eggs/young.
One of the distinctive features of cobras, that the King Cobra too shares, is the hood. The hood is a marvelous feature and an awe-inspiring sight. When threatened, King Cobras rear up and flatten what are essentially their neck ribs into a hood. The hood gives the appearance of the cobra being much larger than it actually is and is quite successful in intimidating potential predators. Accompanying the spreading of the hood, the King Cobra also hisses quite loudly to scare off predators.
The Only Snake That Builds Nests
A King Cobra in Action
One of the other distinctive features of King Cobras is their ability to build nests. They are considered to be the only snakes that actually build nests for their eggs. They are also very dedicated and apparently caring parents, guarding their nests ferociously until such time as the hatchlings hatch. The process of nest-building is quite fascinating. One gets the impression that these snakes are quite intelligent as compared to their compatriots.
The diet of the King Cobra consists primarily of other snakes. Yes, you heard right - King Cobras eat other snakes, including some significantly large snakes and small pythons. No wonder, they are called the "King of Snakes." One of these large snake lunches can keep our king satiated for up to a month or more. Among the snakes, King Cobras particularly seem to relish having rat snakes for lunch. Rat snakes of course feed on rats. Unfortunately, since rat snakes chase rats and since rats live close to human habitats, King Cobras come perilously close to human settlements in pursuit of the rat snakes.
In such human-to-King Cobra confrontations, unfortunately our King Cobra stands little chance. Unfortunately, the King Cobra habitat is shrinking as humans expand out and encroach upon forested areas. One hopes these lovely snakes survive and prosper and do not fall victim to humans like so many species have thus far. The King Cobra is perhaps the only snake that I am captivated by and actually find beautiful. It would be sad to see these magnificent snakes on the extinction list.