IN THE KNOW: The king cobra | Inquirer News

IN THE KNOW: The king cobra

07:23 AM April 09, 2019

The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), found mainly in India, southern China and Southeast Asia, does not have the most potent venom among snakes, but it can kill an elephant or 20 people with a single bite.

This snake is known to avoid humans but attacks people when it is threatened or provoked by approaching objects or sudden movements.

It is the longest of all venomous snakes, growing up to 5.5 meters. It weighs up to 9 kilograms, and has an average life span of 20 years. It eats other snakes, lizards, eggs and small mammals.


When the king cobra is in “attack position,” its head is raised, neck expanded, and fangs bared. It can raise one-third of its body off the ground and move forward for the kill.


According to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, the king cobra is known to inhabit wet and humid environments, such as bamboo thickets or forests crossed by rivers and swamps, and where the temperature is at least 35 degrees Celsius.

Lack of moisture and high temperatures may be among the reasons king cobras leave their natural habitat to look for shaded and cooler areas.

They usually survive in tropical areas but they could become listless when they lack moisture. They also depend on their external environment to regulate body temperature.

Other environmental factors to be considered include scarcity of prey or nearby construction projects and diggings affecting their habitats.

King cobras can hear but are deaf to ambient noises, so they sense ground vibrations instead.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the king cobra as vulnerable, or “at high risk of extinction in the wild.” —Inquirer Research


Sources: Inquirer Archves,

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