The king cobra is a large, venomous snake which is deadly enough to kill a full-grown elephant with one bite. It is the species most used by snake charmers who play a flute to make the snakes dance for the entertainment of tourists. The snakes can not hear the music, but they follow the shape of the flute appearing to respond to the sound.
The king cobra is a large snake with a stout body. On average, they grow 13 feet in length and weigh up to 9.07kg. Some snakes have been measured as long as 18 feet. It has crescent-shaped, alternating light and dark brown markings running the length of its body. When threatened, the snake can open out flaps on either side of its neck to give it a more imposing appearance. The snake can also raise up one-third of its body off the ground, meaning that a large specimen could stand eye to eye with an adult human.
Habitat and Range
The king cobra lives in rainforests, swampy marshes and open plain habitats. The snake ranges from mainland India, southern China and southeast Asia. Populations in Malaysia are known to grow to the record lengths for the species, reaching closer to 18 feet more often than snakes in other areas.
The cobra eats mainly other smaller snakes, including other king cobras. The snake is immune to the venom of other snakes, so it can eat both venomous and nonvenomous species. It also feeds on lizards, small mammals and eggs. In captivity, zookeepers often have to make rodents smell like snakes to entice the cobra to eat them. Being such a deadly snake, the cobra has few enemies; humans hunt and capture them, as does the mongoose. The mongoose is a very agile and fast mammal which can get past the snake's defence and kill it with a bite to the neck.
The king cobra spends much of its life on its own, only coming together to breed. Male cobras will fight over a female with which they want to breed. In early summer, the female cobras lay a clutch of 20 to 50 eggs in a large nest made out of twigs and vegetation. The king cobra is the only snake species to build a nest. It takes two to three months for the eggs to hatch; the mother guards them until just before they hatch. The baby snakes are already over 1 foot long at birth and have the same potent venom as their parents.
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