Are Giant Cobras Real? A Dive into Cobra Size and Facts
India is very popular for its snake charmers. But when it comes to a king cobra, even the most skilled and experienced snake handlers could lose their nerves. But Vava Suresh, a snake rescuer from Kerala, catches the behemoth serpents like it’s some ordinary gecko!
Vava has been catching snakes since the age of 12. During his career as a snake rescuer, he has rescued more than 38,000 snakes. During all these years, Vava has been bitten by snakes more than 300 times. In fact, he was once treated with 65 bottles of antivenom after a king cobra bite that nearly took his life in January 2022. However, that hasn’t stopped Vava from rescuing the serpents. While Vava rescues various kinds of snakes, his encounters with massive king cobras can send shivers down anyone’s spine. But have you wondered how big king cobras can grow in size? Let’s find out the same along with some unbelievable King Cobra facts.
Are King Cobras Really that Big?
The longest king cobra known to mankind has been an 18.8-foot giant! That’s really huge! But though being the longest venomous snake ever recorded in history, it had an unfortunate fate. This giant serpent was captured in April 1937 in Malaysia and was later moved to a zoo in London. It is at this zoo that it grew to its exceptional size by the autumn of 1939.
It was during this time that the World War II outbreak took off. There was a constant worry of dangerous and venomous creatures escaping into the city if the zoo was bombed. And so, some of the venomous animals, including our 18.8-foot sensation, were euthanized.
Coming back to the topic, the average size of a king cobra is around 10 to 12 feet, which is, again, quite huge! They are significantly longer than the size of any other cobra species, which are usually three to seven feet long.
So yeah, king cobras are pretty huge. But it’s not just their size that sets them apart from other snakes or even cobras. There’s more to the story. King cobras are different for not one but many reasons.
Check Out These Five Rare King Cobra Facts
1 King cobras are not considered true cobras.
Though the name “king cobra” appears to be the ruling species of cobras, in reality, they are not even true cobras. True cobras belong to the genus of snakes called Naja (an African lineage). King cobras, however, have their own genus named Ophiophagus.
Both these genera are closely related as they belong to the same group of venomous snakes known as the Elapid group. So it appears that king cobras are the close cousins of true cobras, but surely not cobras themselves.
2 King cobras are the only snakes that build nests.
Snakes are famously known to be the prime predators of bird nests. So naturally, nests and snakes never seem to have a healthy relationship. But female king cobras boldly shatter this myth!
A king cobra is the only snake that builds a nest for its young ones. It is mostly during the spring season when a female king cobra prepares to lay its eggs. She chooses a well-drained spot to build a nest out of leaves and twigs, which is often near a large tree. These nests include walls and shields that offer protection to the eggs.
She stays at this nest for the entire incubation period of 75 to 100 days. The female king cobra guards her nest until the time her eggs hatch, while the male king cobra ensures to remain close by.
3 A king cobra’s diet consists of other snakes.
A common cobra may eat small animals, rodents, or even birds to keep them full. But a king cobra doesn’t like it that way. King cobras are quite stubborn with their diet, which largely consists of snakes. Their diet is all about cold-blooded animals, and they refuse to eat anything except for snakes.
They prey on Asian rat snakes, pythons, and even venomous snakes like kraits, Indian cobras, and small king cobras. Sometimes, king cobras tend to develop a specific diet that is restricted to only a single species of snakes.
The venom of poisonous snakes doesn’t hurt the stomach of king cobras as they are naturally adapted to it. Their stomachs carry digestive juices that disintegrate the poison and make it healthy for them.
4 Never underestimate a baby king cobra because of its small size!
A newborn king cobra might look adorable and super cute, but one must remember that it is still a king cobra. A young king cobra is far more aggressive, short-tempered, and quick to act when compared to an adult king cobra. They are immature with their conduct and, therefore, end up using their entire poison for a single attack.
So baby king cobras are as dangerous as adult king cobras. Maybe more than them at times. Though the amount of venom they carry is lesser than an adult one, it is sufficient enough to leave one hospitalized for days. With their fully developed fangs and super-ready poison delivery system, they can even prove to be life-threatening if you mess with their aggressive temper.
5 The hiss of a king cobra sounds like a growling dog
A “hiss” is mostly a bone-chilling sound as it clearly indicates the presence of a snake in the vicinity. But when it comes to a king cobra, their hisses are not the very typical ones. The hiss of a king cobra is not the usual hiss that you expect from a snake. It’s more like a growl.
Most of the snakes hiss within the frequency range of 3,000 to 13,000 Hertz. The most common frequency found in typical snakes is 7,500 Hertz. A king cobra hisses at a frequency much lower than common snakes. Their hisses are below 2,500 Hertz, with the dominant one being 600 Hertz. Therefore, a king cobra “hiss” sounds more like a growl.
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