If a king cobra came in this room now, 9ft long and rearing up to 6ft tall with a bite that means certain death and it is known to attack without provocation: yeah, I’d be on that table in a shot.


King Cobras

Neither a Cobra, nor a King

The king cobra is not a true cobra but has its own genus Ophiophagus (‘snake eater’ - due to the fact that they eat other snakes).
King cobras are found in India, where as many people die each year from snakebites as in the rest of the world put together. Most deaths are caused by four snakes: the Indian cobra, the common krait, the Russell’s viper and the saw-scaled viper. These snakes are not as potent as the king cobra, but they kill more people because they are most commonly found in built-up areas.
Called the land of snakes, India is steeped in tradition regarding snakes. Snakes are worshipped as gods even today with many women pouring milk on snake pits (despite snakes' aversion for milk). The cobra is seen on the neck of Shiva and Vishnu is depicted often as sleeping only on a seven-headed snake. There are also several temples in India solely for cobras sometimes called Nagraj (King of Snakes) and it is believed that snakes are symbols of fertility.

King cobras are the species of choice for the snake charmers of South Asia.


King cobra: Not a cobra. Also most snakes are self-governing.

Nicolas Cage has owned two albino king cobras – as well as the antidote to their venom, which he kept beside the cage.

Barking Snakes

King cobras don’t hiss; they give out a growling noise like an angry dog. The sound is produced by forcing air through tiny holes in their trachea, which have membranes not altogether unlike a kazoo.
The king cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to five metres in length. They can rear up and look you in the eye and they deliver more venom per bite (up to 600mg) than any other snake – that’s enough to kill 20 men or one elephant. The venom isn’t particularly powerful, ounce for ounce; it’s the sheer quantity that kills you.


King cobras can eat snakes longer than themselves; they puke up the bit that won’t fit.


I kept a king cobra. Its poison is much deadlier than that of other cobras because its diet is nothing but other cobras.

A Good Mother

King cobras are unusual snakes in that the female is a dedicated mother.  She will make a nest for her eggs and guard and incubate them. If any animal comes close before they hatch, she will rear up and become extremely aggressive. Many snakes eat their children, but a female king cobra instinctively leaves the nest looking for other prey as soon as her young are hatched.
Some king cobra females actually construct two-levelled nests, with the lower level for their eggs, and the upper level for the snake herself – allowing for extra protection while they are being incubated.

The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the only member of its genus.

King cobras are a popular with snake charmers. Although they can't hear the music they are enticed by the shape and movement of the flute.

The king cobra has special muscles and ribs in its neck that spread out to form a 'hood' when it is threatened.