What Do King Cobras Eat?

A king cobra the length of a stretch limo slides through a field. Looking for food, it raises its head and flicks its tongue. Suddenly, a rat scampers past. The snake takes off after the rodent. As it nears its prey, the cobra strikes: It sinks its venom-filled fangs into the rat to knock it out, then swallows the snack in one gulp.

King cobras are venomous snakes that live in South and Southeast Asia. They can also end up on the dinner menuthe snake is a favorite meal of the mongoose, a kind of mammal.

They often expand ribs and muscles on both sides of their necks to create whats called a hood. While cobras can become aggressive when hungry or threatened, they know how to make their families feel at home. King cobras never stop growing and shed their skin around 5 times a year!

What is a king cobras favorite food?

Cobras eat small mammals, lizards, and birds. They can also end up on the dinner menu—the snake is a favorite meal of the mongoose, a kind of mammal.

Can a king cobra eat a human?

The lethality of venom depends on a combination of its potency, the volume delivered and the size of the victim. A king cobra bite can kill a human in 15 minutes and a full-grown elephant in a few hours. … Even deadly snakes like kraits or other cobras are prey.

What animal can kill a king cobra?

The mongoose is known for its ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, especially cobras. Their specialised acetylcholine receptors render them immune to venom.

Cobras, with their threatening hoods and intimidating upright postures, are some of the most iconic snakes on Earth. Their elegance, prideful stance and venomous bite have made them both respected and feared.

Cobras are Elapids, a type of poisonous snake with hollow fangs fixed to the top jaw at the front of the mouth. In addition to their trademark hoods, cobras have round pupils and smooth scales.

Hooding occurs when the snake spreads out its neck ribs forming a flattened, widened section of its body near the head. This creates a stunning, and threatening, spectacle. The King Cobra ( Ophiophagus Hannah ), listed as vulnerable, due to loss of habitat and over exploitation for medicinal purposes, is the world (Image credit: Bosse Jonsson) According to Cobras by Sylvia A. Johnson (Lerner, 2006), cobras typically live in hot, tropical areas but are also found in savannahs, grasslands, forests and farming areas in Africa and Southern Asia. These include hooding, hissing, and raising the upper portion of their bodies to stand erect.

Most cobras can stand as tall as a third of their body length. In addition to signaling a willingness to attack, this behavior helps them search for food. According to the San Diego Zoo, most cobras hunt at dawn or dusk, though some species forage during the heat of the day. Symptoms from a neurotoxic cobra bite can include problems with vision, difficulty swallowing and speaking, skeletal muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, respiratory failure, vomiting, abdominal pain, necrosis, and anticoagulation. [ Related: 7 Shocking Snake Stories ]

According to the University of Michigan , human victims may stop breathing just 30 minutes after being bitten by a cobra. According to the American Museum of Natural History , spitting cobras also have the ability to shoot venom from their fangs directly into the eyes of the victim with terrifying accuracy. Nevertheless, when they rear up the front third of their body under threat, the stance can be quite high. An especially long snake could be as tall as a person, meaning that an angry king cobra could literally look you in the eye.

Though there are other snakes with more potent venom, the amount of neurotoxin that a king cobra can emit in one bite is enough to kill 20 people or one elephant.

King cobras are large venomous snakes native to India and Southeast Asia. Like many other cobra species, they are well known and easily identified by the flattened skin on either sides of their heads. When threatened, cobras spread this skin to appear more intimidating. These venomous reptiles are both dangerous and misunderstood. Read on to learn about the king cobra.

In Asia, populations can be found in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Bhutan, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Laos, and Malaysia. In India they have been recorded in Goa, Karnataka, Tamil, Uttrakhand, Kerala, Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, and the Andaman Islands.

Some of their most common prey includes rat snakes , pythons , other cobras, kraits, and pit vipers . A good-sized meal can sustain a snake for moths at a time, as they have incredibly slow metabolic rates. In fact, they are much more likely to attempt escape when confronted by another animal, and only become aggressive when continually agitated or cornered.

The vast majority of snakebites are actually inflicted on snake handlers, rather than civilians accidentally bitten. The young, called hatchlings, are capable of hunting and injecting venom from the moment they hatch.

The King cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake. They are dark olive or brown in color with black bands and white or yellow crossbands. Their head is black with two crossbars near the snout and two behind the eyes. The belly is cream or pale yellow. Juveniles are shiny black with narrow yellow bands. The head of a mature snake can be quite massive and bulky in appearance, though like all snakes, it can expand its jaws to swallow large prey items. The King cobra is a highly venomous and dangerous snake when agitated or provoked that has a fearsome reputation in its range, although it is typically shy and avoids confrontation with humans when possible. This snake is a prominent symbol in the mythology and folk traditions of India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. It is the national reptile of India.

King cobras, like other snakes, receive chemical information via their forked tongue, which picks up scent particles and transfers them to a special sensory receptor (Jacobson’s organ) located in the roof of their mouth. King cobra populations have dropped in some areas of its range because of the destruction of forests and ongoing collection for the international pet trade.

The IUCN Red List and other sources dont provide the number of the King cobra total population size. A good defense for anyone who accidentally encounters the King cobra is to slowly remove a shirt or hat and toss it to the ground while backing away.

LARGE AND (MOSTLY) IN CHARGE

A king cobra the length of a stretch limo slides through a field. Looking for food, it raises its head and flicks its tongue. Suddenly, a rat scampers past. The snake takes off after the rodent. As it nears its prey, the cobra strikes: It sinks its venom-filled fangs into the rat to knock it out, then swallows the snack in one gulp.

Cobra characteristics

Cobras are Elapids, a type of poisonous snake with hollow fangs fixed to the top jaw at the front of the mouth. These snakes cannot hold their fangs down on prey so they inject venom through their fangs, according to the San Diego Zoo. They have an excellent sense of smell and night vision. In addition to their trademark hoods, cobras have round pupils and smooth scales.Colors vary widely from species to species. There are red, yellow, black, mottled, banded and many other colors and patterns of cobra.Cobras are large snakes; many species reach more than 6 feet long (2 meters). According to Cape Snake Conservation, the forest cobra is the largest true cobra, reaching 10 feet (3 m), and Ashe’s spitting cobra is 9 feet (2.7 m), making it the world’s largest spitting cobra. The smallest species is the Mozambique spitting cobra, which is about 4 feet long (1.2 m). King cobras, the longest of all venomous snakes, can reach 18 feet (5.5 m).“The most well-known distinctive physical characteristic of cobras is their hood,” said Viernum. “Hooding occurs when the snake spreads out its neck ribs forming a flattened, widened section of its body near the head.” This creates a stunning, and threatening, spectacle.

Habitat

According to Cobras by Sylvia A. Johnson (Lerner, 2006), cobras typically live in hot, tropical areas but are also found in savannahs, grasslands, forests and farming areas in Africa and Southern Asia. They like to spend time underground, under rocks and in trees.

Habits

“The most distinctive behavioral characteristics of cobras are their defensive displays,” said Viernum. “These include hooding, hissing, and raising the upper portion of their bodies to stand erect. Most cobras can stand as tall as a third of their body length.” In addition to signaling a willingness to attack, this behavior helps them search for food. Cobras may hiss loudly at predators and other threats, and some species also spit. “Spitting cobras are able to project venom from their fangs towards their perceived predators,” said Viernum.Cobras reproduce by laying eggs. Females typically lay 20 to 40 eggs at a time, which incubate between 60 and 80 days. According to India’s SnakeWorld, cobras will stay near the eggs and defend them until they hatch. Wild boars and mongooses are known to steal cobra eggs.The mongoose is the best-known enemy of the cobra. According to Cobras.org, mongooses have thick fur to protect against cobra fangs and often defeat cobras in fights using their speed and agility. They can bite the cobra’s back before the snake can defend itself. Cobras are also threatened from other snakes and humans.Cobras are typically opportunistic hunters, chowing down on whatever prey comes their way. Often, they eat birds, small mammals, lizards, eggs, carrion and other snakes. They slither through the wilderness silently, following their prey until they are ready to attack. According to the San Diego Zoo, most cobras hunt at dawn or dusk, though some species forage during the heat of the day.Like other snakes, cobras have a very slow metabolism that allows them to go for days or even months without feeding.

Cobra bite

“Cobra bites can be fatal, especially if left untreated,” said Viernum. Fortunately, antivenin is available and sometimes lives can also be saved with the use of an artificial respirator. Viernum explained cobras’ neurotoxic venom’s effects: “Like coral snakes, cobras have potent neurotoxic venom, which acts on the nervous system. Symptoms from a neurotoxic cobra bite can include problems with vision, difficulty swallowing and speaking, skeletal muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, respiratory failure, vomiting, abdominal pain, necrosis, and anticoagulation.” [Related: 7 Shocking Snake Stories]According to the University of Michigan, human victims may stop breathing just 30 minutes after being bitten by a cobra.Some cobras, including all spitting cobras, have cytotoxic venom that attacks body tissue and causes severe pain, swelling and possible necrosis (death of cells and tissue). According to the American Museum of Natural History, spitting cobras also have the ability to shoot venom from their fangs directly into the eyes of the victim with terrifying accuracy. Venom in the eyes can lead to blindness if not washed out well.

King cobra

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), the taxonomy of “true” cobras is:

Description of the King Cobra

Adults and juveniles have different color patterns. Adults are more drab colored, and range from deep olive to light brown. They have black, white, or yellow bands and cross bands over their base color. Juvenile snakes are more drastically colored. They have shiny black scales lined with bright yellow bands. Both adults and juveniles have light colored undersides. Their large heads are equipped with hollow fangs used for injecting venom.

Habitat of the King Cobra

These well-known snakes are more than simple killing machines. Learning more about dangerous species can help us come to respect different animals. Here are some things you may not know about king cobras.

Distribution of the King Cobra

King cobras are found across India, southeast Asia, and some areas of East Asia. In Asia, populations can be found in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Bhutan, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Laos, and Malaysia. In India they have been recorded in Goa, Karnataka, Tamil, Uttrakhand, Kerala, Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, and the Andaman Islands.

Diet of the King Cobra

These predators are ophiophagous, which means that they eat other species of snakes, including other venomous snakes. Some of their most common prey includes rat snakes, pythons, other cobras, kraits, and pit vipers. When food is scarce they will feed on rodents, small mammals, reptiles, birds, and more. They hunt by following the odor trail of their prey. A good-sized meal can sustain a snake for moths at a time, as they have incredibly slow metabolic rates.

King Cobra and Human Interaction

Humans fear king cobras, for obvious reasons! Their venom can be deadly, and as with any other venomous snake, bites should be treated immediately by medical professionals for the best chance at survival. That being said, these snakes are highly misunderstood. King cobras are not aggressive animals. In fact, they are much more likely to attempt escape when confronted by another animal, and only become aggressive when continually agitated or cornered.The vast majority of snakebites are actually inflicted on snake handlers, rather than civilians accidentally bitten. If you ever cross paths with a king cobra, the recommended behavior is to slowly drop a hat or shirt on the ground while slowly backing away from the snake.

Domestication

Despite the long-time tradition of snake charming, king cobras are not domesticated in any way.

King Cobra Care

In zoos, these snakes are provided with a stable temperature, humidity, and light source. They are incredibly long snakes, and thus require larger enclosures than the average reptile might require. In a zoological setting it is extremely impractical to feed a diet of other snakes. Instead, these predators are sustained on a diet of thawed rats, mice, and chicks.

Behavior of the King Cobra

These snakes are solitary creatures, and only interact to mate. While they do not remain with their mates during the rest of the year, they will occasionally breed with the same individual the following year. They are primarily active during the day, making them diurnal. Unlike other snakes, king cobras are also sometimes active during the night, but this occurs infrequently.

Reproduction of the King Cobra

After mating, female cobras develop their eggs for 50-59 days. She will build a nest of leaves and other debris and guard her eggs aggressively. This behavior is very unusual among snakes. She will lay anywhere from 12 to 51 eggs in her nest, and will guard them until they hatch 51 to 79 days later. The young, called “hatchlings,” are capable of hunting and injecting venom from the moment they hatch.