Looking at the photo of this animal, which is in the rack, two sensations involuntarily arise in the soul: fear and admiration. On the one hand, you understand that the king cobra is extremely dangerous and poisonous, and, on the other hand, one cannot help but admire her, in truth, royal article and proud, independent, regal appearance, which is simply mesmerizing. Let's take a closer look at her life, describing not only the external side, but also habits, character, snake disposition.
The origin of the species and description
The king cobra is also called the Hamadryad. The reptile belongs to the genus of the same name of king cobras, being a representative of the asp family. This family is very extensive and very poisonous, includes 61 genera and 347 varieties of snake creatures. Of all the venomous snakes, the king cobra is perhaps the largest. Its length can be more than five and a half meters, but such specimens are very rare, on average, the length of the snake is 3 – 4 meters.
Interesting fact: The largest king cobra was caught in 1937, its length was 5.71 meters, she spent her snake life in the London Zoo.
In general, the very name “cobra” has been going on since the sixteenth century in the era of the greatest geographical discoveries. The Portuguese, who were going to settle in India, met there with a spectacled snake, which they began to call “Cobra de Capello”, which means “snake in a hat” in Portuguese. So this name took root behind all crawling reptiles with a hood. The name of the king cobra is translated from Latin as “eating a snake.”
Video: King cobra
Herpetologists called this reptile hanna, which is consonant with the Latin name (Ophiophagus hannah), they divide the king cobras into two separate groups:
- Chinese (continental) have wide stripes and a uniform ornament throughout the body;
- Indonesian (island) – monochromatic snakes with uneven reddish spots in the throat area and light thin stripes located across.
There is a misconception that the king cobra is the most venomous snake on the entire planet, this is a delusion. This title was given to Taipan McCoy, whose poison is 180 times more dangerous and stronger than the poison of the Hamadryad. There are other reptiles with a stronger venom than the king cobra.
Appearance and Features
We figured out the size of the king cobra, but its weight in medium-sized specimens reaches approximately six kilograms, in large-sized specimens it reaches twelve. Sensing danger, the cobra spreads the chest ribs in such a way that something like a hood appears on top. It is its most important external feature. On the hood there are six rather large shields of dark color, having a semicircular shape.
The hood has the ability to inflate due to the presence of skin folds located on the sides. On top of the cobra's head there is a completely flat area, the reptile's eyes are small, most often dark in color. Dangerous and poisonous snake fangs grow up to one and a half centimeters.
The coloration of a mature snake is most often dark olive or brown with lighter rings across the body, although their presence is not mandatory. The tail of the reptile is either marsh or completely black. The color of the young is usually brown or black, whitish, sometimes with yellowness, stripes running across it stand out. By the tone of the snake color and the stripes on it, you can guess which of the above groups (Chinese or Indonesian) the cobra belongs to. The color of the scales located on the ridge of the snake depends on the permanent location of the cobra, because camouflage is very important for a reptile.
Therefore, it can be of the following shades:
- sandy yellow.
The color of the belly is always lighter than the back, usually a light beige.
Where does the king cobra live?
The distribution range of the king cobra is very extensive. Southeast Asia can be called the birthplace of the snake family of aspids, the king cobra is no exception here, it has also spread widely throughout South Asia. The reptile has firmly settled in India, in the part that is located south of the Himalayan mountains, has chosen the south of China up to the island of Hainan. The cobra feels great in the vastness of Indonesia, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Hanna loves wet, tropical forests, prefers the presence of dense forest undergrowth . In general, a snake person can adapt to different natural zones and landscapes. It can also be registered in the savannas, in the territories of mangrove wetlands, in dense thickets of bamboo.
Scientists conducted research and tracked the movements of king cobras using radio-controlled beacons. As a result, it turned out that some reptiles always live in a certain area, while others wander to new places located tens of kilometers from their previous places of registration.
Now king cobras are increasingly living near human settlements. Most likely, this is a forced step, because. a person intensively displaces them from the inhabited territories, plowing up land and cutting down forests, where snakes have settled for centuries. Cobras are also attracted to cultivated fields, because there you can eat all kinds of rodents, which young snakes often do.
Now you know where the king cobra lives, let's see what it eats.
What does the king cobra eat?
No wonder the king the cobra is named as a snake eater, which is a frequent guest on its snake menu, consisting of: >
Among cobras, it is sometimes found that adults eat their little cubs. In addition to snakes, the diet of the king cobra includes fairly large lizards, including monitor lizards. As already mentioned, young animals are not averse to eating rodents. Sometimes cobras eat frogs and some birds.
On the hunt, the cobra becomes purposeful and agile, furiously pursuing its prey. First, she tries to grab the victim by the tail, and then seeks to inflict deadly bites on or near the head. The most powerful venom of the king cobra strikes the victim on the spot. It is worth noting that the cobra's teeth are not long and do not have the ability to fold, like other poisonous snakes, so Hannah tries to hold her prey in order to bite it several times. And the strongest poison of this reptile kills even a huge elephant, usually about six milliliters are injected into the body of the bitten one. A poisonous toxin affects the nervous system, making it impossible to breathe, and within a few minutes after the bite, caught prey goes into cardiac arrest.
An interesting fact: the king cobra, unlike many other reptiles, does not engage in gluttony. She freely endures a three-month hunger strike, during which she hatches her offspring.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
For many, the cobra is associated with a stance and a swollen hood, the royal one is no exception. The reptile hangs vertically, lifting up a third of its body. This position of the body does not hinder snake movement, it shows that the reptile dominates other cobra relatives when contractions occur during the wedding season. In battle, the cobra that was able to peck the opponent right in the crown wins. The defeated opponent leaves the stance and is removed. For a cobra, its own venom is non-toxic, snakes have long developed immunity, so duellists never die from bites. tracheal diverticula capable of sounding at a low frequency.
Cobra rises to the rack not only during mating games, so she warns the ill-wisher of a possible attack. Its venom paralyzes the respiratory muscles, resulting in death for those bitten. A person who has received a poisonous dose will not live longer than half an hour unless a special antidote is immediately injected into the body, and not everyone has such an opportunity. there are few cobras, although the snake's poisonousness and aggressiveness are quite significant.
Scientists explain this by the fact that the cobra needs royal poison for productive hunting, because it devours other snakes, therefore, creeping saves its valuable toxin and does not scatter it in vain. To intimidate a person, Hanna often bites him empty, without injecting poison. The snake has remarkable self-control and patience and will not enter into conflict without a reason. If she is nearby, then it is better for a person to be at the level of her eyes and try to freeze, so Hannah will understand that there is no threat, and she retreats herself.
The growth of the king cobra continues throughout her life, which, under favorable circumstances, can exceed the thirty-year milestone. The molting process of the reptile occurs 4 to 6 times annually, which brings great stress to the royal. It lasts about ten days, at this time the snake is very vulnerable, and seeks to find a warm secluded place. In general, cobras love to hide in reliable burrows and caves, skillfully crawl in the crowns of trees and swim perfectly.
The king cobra living in a zoo is a rarity, this is due to the increased aggressive mood of the reptile. In addition, it is very difficult to feed a royal person, because she does not really like rodents, preferring snake snacks.
Social structure and reproduction
During the snake wedding season, partners often fight over partners. The one who emerges from them is the winner, and gets the opportunity to mate. A short moment of courtship in a relationship is also present, before mating, the gentleman needs to understand that his chosen one is calm and will not kill him in the heat of aggression, and this is the case with king cobras. The mating process itself lasts no more than an hour.
King cobras are egg-laying reptiles. After about a month, the expectant mother starts laying eggs. Before this important task, the female prepares a nest from branches and rotten foliage. Such a structure is erected on a hill, so as not to be flooded in case of showers, it can reach up to five meters in diameter. The clutch of the king cobra contains from 20 to 40 eggs.
An interesting fact: The male does not leave the partner immediately after fertilization, and together with her carefully guards the nest for a couple. Partners replace each other so that the duty is around the clock. At this time, future snake parents are extremely hot-tempered, vicious and incredibly dangerous.
The process of relentless monitoring of the nest takes three whole months, during this time the female does not eat anything at all, therefore it is not surprising that the level of her aggression simply rolls over. Before hatching, she leaves the nest so as not to eat her own children after such a long diet. Small snakes graze for about a day in the nest area, reinforced by the yolks left in the eggs. Babies are born already poisonous, like adults, but this does not save them from attacks by various ill-wishers, of which there are many, therefore, out of several dozen cubs, only two to four surviving lucky ones get their way into life.
Natural enemies of king cobras
Despite the fact that the king cobra carries a poisonous, potent, deadly weapon and has an aggressive disposition, its life in natural conditions is not so easy and it is not endowed with immortality. Many enemies await and hunt this dangerous royal person.
Among them are:
- serpent eagles;
All of the ill-wishers of Hannah listed above are not averse to feasting on her. Especially vulnerable are inexperienced young animals, which cannot give a significant rebuff to predators. As already mentioned, only a few cubs survive from the entire cobra egg clutch, the rest become victims of ill-wishers. Do not forget that the mother cobra herself can eat newborn babies, because it is very difficult to endure a hundred-day hunger strike.
Boars are very massive and thick-skinned, and it is not easy for a snake to bite through their skin. Meerkats and mongooses have no immunity to the reptile's venom, but are its worst enemies. One need only recall Kipling's famous story about the brave mongoose Rikki-tikki-tavi, who bravely fought against a family of cobras. Fearless and dexterous mongooses and meerkats, when fighting a reptile, rely on their mobility, swiftness, resourcefulness and instant reaction.
The mongoose has long noticed that the hannah is a little phlegmatic and slow, so he developed a special attack plan for the attack: the animal quickly jumps and immediately bounces, then immediately repeats a series of the same maneuvers, introducing the snake into confusion. Having seized the right moment, the mongoose makes its final jump, which ends with a bite to the back of the head of the cobra, which leads the discouraged reptile to death.
Small snakes are threatened by other, larger reptiles, but the most notorious and unsurpassed enemy of the king cobra is a man who kills snakes purposefully, killing and catching them, and indirectly, through his violent and often thoughtless activities.
Population and species status
The population of the king cobra is steadily declining. This is due to human actions, which are very selfish and uncontrollable. People are trapping cobras to collect their venom, which is highly valued in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic fields. An antidote is made from the poison that can neutralize the poisonous effect of a snake bite. The poison is used to make painkillers. With its use, many diseases are treated (asthma, epilepsy, bronchitis, arthritis). Cobra venom is used to make creams that counteract skin aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles. In general, the value of the poison is great, and the king cobra often suffers from this, losing his life.
The reason for the extermination of the cobra is the fact that in many Asian countries its meat is eaten, considering it a valuable and tasty delicacy. An incredible number of dishes are prepared from the meat of the royal reptile, eating it fried, boiled, salted, baked and even marinated. The Chinese eat not only snake skin, but also drink the fresh blood of hannah. In Laos, eating a cobra is considered a whole ritual.
Interesting fact: Laotians believe that by eating a cobra, they gain its strength, courage, healthy spirit and wisdom.
Cobras often lose their lives because of their own skin, which is highly prized in the fashion industry. Reptile skin has not only beauty, original texture and ornament, but also strength and durability. All kinds of handbags, purses, belts, shoes are sewn from Hanna snake skin, all these fashion accessories cost fabulous sums.
Man influences the population of king cobras through his actions, which often lead to the fact that cobras are forced out of their places of permanent deployment. People are actively developing lands, plowing them for agricultural land, expanding the territories of cities, cutting down dense forests, building new highways. All this has a detrimental effect on the life of many representatives of the fauna, including the king cobra.
It is not surprising that as a result of all the above human actions, king cobras are becoming less and less, they are under the threat of destruction in conservation areas. they are listed as vulnerable.
King Cobra Conservation
It is bitter to realize that king cobras are threatened with extinction, their population is constantly declining, due to the fact that it is not possible to eradicate poaching, which flourishes in many countries where the majestic king snake lives. Not only the illegal capture of reptiles, but also the active actions of people occupying snake territories, lead to the death of a considerable number of snakes. Do not forget that only one tenth of the young survive from the entire masonry.
The king cobra is listed as a vulnerable species that is threatened with extinction. Because of this, in some countries, the authorities took these reptiles under protection. Back in the eighties of the last century, a law was passed in India, which is still in force, according to which a strict ban on the killing and illegal capture of these reptiles was introduced. The penalty for violating it is a three-year prison term. Hindus consider the king cobra sacred and hang its image in their homes, believing that it will bring prosperity and prosperity to the home.
Interesting fact: In India, there is a holiday in honor of the king cobra. On this day, the indigenous people carry snakes from the forest thicket to let them into temples and city streets. Hindus believe that on such a day a snake bite is impossible. After the celebration, all the reptiles are again taken to the forest.
In the end, it remains to be added that the king cobra really looks like a blue-blooded person, reminiscent of the Egyptian queen with her beautiful hood and article . No wonder her wisdom and greatness are revered by many peoples. The main thing is that people also remain wise and noble, so that this unique reptile does not disappear from our planet.