King cobra

Ophiophagus hannah

SUBFAMILY

Elapinae

TAXONOMY

Hamadryas hannah Cantor, 1836, Calcutta.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Cobra hannah; German: Königskobra.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The king cobra has an average length of approximately 118 in (3 m), but has been reported to reach a length of more than 197 in (5 m). It is the longest venomous snake. Its color varies greatly in combinations of brown, yellow, olive green, and black. Some snakes are banded with a yellow venter.

DISTRIBUTION

India to southeastern China; Philippines and Indonesian archipelago.

HABITAT

The king cobra is found in dense, high jungle, often near water. BEHAVIOR

This is a shy species that avoids humans but can become aggressive when cornered. It attacks to guard its nest.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This species preys mainly on other snakes, which it finds through active foraging.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The king cobra is one of the only snake species to construct a nest, which is made of dead vegetation and soil. Bamboo thick

| Ophiophagus hannah

ets are the preferred nesting site. Both the male and female remain with the eggs and protect them until hatching.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This species is considered highly dangerous because of its large size and potent venom. It is revered in Indian and Southeast Asian societies because of these traits. ♦

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