King Cobra

Scientific Name

Ophiophagus hannah



IUCN Redlist Status



King cobras are located throughout southeast Asia. They can be found in parts of India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. They also live on some of the islands of southeast Asia such as Java and Borneo.


Their habitats include dense forests and bamboo thickets, usually near swamps, rivers or streams. They may also be found in fields or agricultural areas.


A large portion of their diets consists of other snakes. They may also feed on rodents or lizards.


King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world. They average between 10 - 15 feet in length, and have the ability to lift one-third of their bodies straight into the air while the rest of their bodies remain on the ground. King cobras are smaller than some types of pythons and constrictors, but are very dangerous nonetheless. They are among the most venomous snakes in the world, and a bite from a king cobra can be deadly.


King cobras are visually intruiging. They may be various colors, from a light tan or green color to a dark brown color. The scales on their heads resemble armor plates, and often have a shimmery apprearance. Below the head of the snakes are ribs. These ribs can spread and become the most famous aspect of king cobras, the "hood". By opening their hoods, they will give the appearance of being larger than they actually are in an effort to drive predators away without conflict. This is mainly a defensive mechanism.

King cobras have very good eyesight, and can see prey as far as 300 feet away. They also can flick their tongues to pick up scents. By combining these two different senses, king cobras are deadly predators.

The venom of king cobras is not the most toxic in the world. However, they can inject large amounts of it when they strike. They have two short fangs that they will use to inject the venom into their victims. This will paralyze their victims and eventually kill them. Once the victims have been struck, king cobras will swallow them whole.


Adding to their "kingly" stature, female king cobras build large nests for their eggs, and may be the only snakes in the world that do so. They will usually lay 20 or more eggs in the nest, and then the females will incubate and protect the eggs until they hatch by coiling their long bodies in the nests on top of them.

Other Facts

King cobras are famous for shows performed by snake charmers. Snake charmers will play beautiful flute music while a cobra in a basket sways back and forth. However, it is not the music that the snake is "dancing" to. It is the rhythmic motion of the flute that it is following.