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Snakes - COBRA

The king cobra is the world’s longest poisonous snake
It is a highly poisonous snake. It averages 3.7 m (12 ft) in length but is known to grow to 5.5 m (18 ft). It is a thin snake, olive or brown in color, with bronze eyes.  

The king cobra can be found throughout southeast Asia, from India to southern China to Malaysia, from Indonesia to the Philippines.

 

It is is considered to be the most intelligent of all snakes. King cobras are generally found in dense or open rainforests, as well as  swamps, bamboo thickets,  and even around human settlements. They are excellent swimmers, often being found near streams, and are avid tree climbers. They are often found in mountainous regions of India, up to altitudes of 6500 ft  above sea level.

Their head is small and rounded, with large scales edged in black. The body is slender, and the tail is long and tapering. Coloration ranges from yellow-olive to brownish black. The snake can raise its head to a third of its length and may even move forward while upright. It has a loud, intimidating hiss resembling a dog's growl. It sometimes assumes an upright posture to see farther. The king cobra is an active hunter. It preys almost exclusively on other snakes. It is not normally aggressive to humans, but it is hostile and dangerous during the breeding season or when cornered or startled. Its paralyzing venom is so copious and powerful that elephants have died within three hours of a bite.

The king cobra can live up to 20 years. It lives longer in captivity than in the wild. It can deliver up to 12 oz of venom in one bite. It is capable of eating a 3 year old cow. King cobras shed their skin 4-6 times per year for adults and every month for juveniles. They have good eyesight, being able to see 330 ft (100 m) away.  The king cobra's cunning eyesight acts like internal surveillance systems helping to make this snake one of the top predators in the world. They lack external ears, but can still hear due to sound traveling through their skin to the jaw bone and to the bone near the ear and from there to the inner eardrum.

When the king cobra becomes scared or agitated, ribs in the neck flatten out, expanding the folds of skin and creating a long, narrow hood.

Mating times vary with region. King cobras reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years of age. The breeding season begins in January. When male and female find each other, the male entwines its body around the female, and they may stay in that position for several hours. The male's sperm eventually fertilizes eggs, and the female becomes gravid i.e. pregnant. Mated pairs remain together for the season and the female builds a nest in which she lays 20 to 50 eggs. She coils above or near the eggs for about two months and fiercely defends the breeding ground. It is said that the male remains nearby and guards the area. It takes 3 months for the eggs to hatch. After they hatch they stay 2 weeks with their mom then the king cobra can go live on it's own. Hatchlings are about 18 to 22 inches (45 to 55 centimeters) long and are black with yellow or white stripes.

The venom is a neurotoxin, and in humans can cause pain, swelling, hypertension, nausea, abdominal pain, drowsiness, limb paralysis, unconsciousness, and finally death. The symptoms begin to show 15-30 minutes after the attack.

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