King Cobra

Ophiophagus Hannah

Scientific Name

King Cobra:  
Ophiophagus Hannah

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

This magnificent snake can be found throughout mainland India, southern china, and southeastern Asia.

Natural Habitat

The king cobra is numerous in the dense highland forests of southern Asia and has been found living at 6,500 feet 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. 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. 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. Indian cobras have an eyespot pattern located on the hood that acts as a warning to predators. 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.

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. Every year thousands of people in Southern Asian die from poisonous snake bites. Both people and other poisonous snakes live in fear of the king cobra, one of the most deadly.

  3. 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

Least Concern: The King Cobra is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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In the wild, the king cobra mainly eats snakes. In captivity they are fed rodents.