King Cobra

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Cobra

Lifestyle

Although these snakes are very dangerous to people, the king cobra is not aggressive unless disturbed. They generally hang around the underbrush of forests and can be hard to spot. Their colors vary from greenish-brown or gray to a deep, shiny black. In general, king cobras in dark forests have darker skin, and those in open forest or plains have lighter skin.

Food

This king cobra is a carnivorous cannibal, feeding exclusively on other snakes, including other cobras. Its strong venom helps it digest food.

Life Cycle

Unusual for snakes, king cobras build nests and guard their eggs, which may number up to 40. Using her coils, the female cobra pulls loose vegetation into a mound and then wraps herself around the eggs until they hatch. This behavior is probably done to protect the eggs, not to keep them warm. Snakes are cold blooded and can’t regulate their body temperature.

Just before the baby snakes hatch, the mother slithers away. For two months she has been fasting, and herpetologists think she may leave to avoid the temptation to eat her own young. The hatchlings’ venom is already as strong as their parents, but they are still vulnerable to army ants, civet cats, giant centipedes, and mongooses.

Some of My Neighbors

Wild boar, mongooses, civet cats, giant centipedes

Population Status & Threats

King cobras are currently not classified by IUCN, but are threatened by habitat loss and deforestation in India.

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