King Cobra

Ophiophagus hannah

Scientific Name

King Cobra:  
Ophiophagus hannah

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Throughout mainland India, southern China, and southeastern Asia.

Natural Habitat

Dense highland forests of southern Asia, they have been found living at 6,500 ft. above sea level in the mountains of India.

Physical Characteristics

  • The average length of the cobra is 13 feet. If threatened, the King cobra can raise itself up to one third of its total length. In some cases this can make it taller than an average man.

  • The cobra has specialized salivary glands located behind the eyes that secrete venom. When the snake bites, venom is forced through the fangs and into the wound. To make swallowing prey easier, the cobra’s jaws are composed of two independent bones that are loosely attached to its skull which allows the snake to swallow an animal that is thicker than its own head.

  • If the cobra feels threatened, it will rear up, flatten out the ribs of its neck into a hood, and emit a high pitched hiss.

Quick Facts

  1. A king cobra can inject enough venom to kill a fully grown Indian elephant within three hours, provided it bites a sensitive spot such as the tip of the trunk.

  2. They are the only snakes in the world that build nests for their eggs, which they guard ferociously until the hatchlings emerge.


Amphibian and Reptile Center

Conservation Status

Vulnerable: The King Cobra population has been seriously depleted and its protection is not secured

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In the wild. they mainly eat snakes. In captivity, they are fed rodents.