King snake: description, breeding, photo, poison, behavior
It is still unclear why this cobra was called royal. Perhaps because of the considerable size (4-6 m) that set it apart from other cobras or because of the arrogant habit of eating other snakes, abstaining from small rodents, birds and frogs.
Is able in case of danger to push the chest ribs so that the upper body turns into a kind of hood. This neck swelling trick is due to skin folds hanging on its sides. There is a small flat area at the top of the snake’s head, eyes are small, usually dark.
It was awarded the name “cobra” by the Portuguese who arrived in India at the dawn of the 16th century. Initially, they called the eyeglass cobra a “snake in a hat” (“cobra de capello”). Then the nickname lost its second part and was assigned to all representatives of the clan.
APPEARANCE OF THE SNAKE
King cobra belongs to the family of aspids, it is the longest poisonous snake in the world. Usually a reptile reaches a length of four meters, and weighs up to six kilograms. The longest reptile of this species lived in the London Zoo, its length was 5.7 meters. The heaviest reptile weighed more than 12 kilograms.
Skin color can be olive, black or brown. There are yellowish stripes along the entire length. In the mouth of the reptile are two sharp fangs through which channels with poison pass. The mouth of the reptile is very plastic, which allows the snake to swallow prey much larger than it.
King cobra lives in most of South and Southeast Asia. It is distributed in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan and Sichuan.
In Indonesia, the reptile is found on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Bali, Java, Bank, Mentawai, and in the Philippines on the islands of Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Palawan, Balabak and Luzon. In India, the largest populations are observed in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, located in the south of the country.
The northern boundary of the range passes at the foot of the Himalayan mountains. Hamadriad prefers to settle in tropical rainforests near ponds and mangrove swamps. In mountainous areas it is adapted to exist at altitudes of up to 2000 m above sea level.
In recent years, the reptile has increasingly chosen the outskirts of settlements for its place of residence, where rodents and rat snows (Elaphe) hunt in abundance. The latter are among his most beloved victims.
The species was first described in 1836 by Danish zoologist Theodore Edward Cantor as Hamadryas hannah.
Duration and lifestyle
If the king cobra does not fall on the mongoose’s tooth, it may well live 30 years or more. The reptile grows throughout its long life, molting from 4 to 6 times per year. Shedding takes about 10 days and is stressful for the serpentine organism: the hannah becomes vulnerable and seeks warm shelter, often played by human housing.
It is interesting!King cobra crawls on the ground, hiding in burrows / caves and climbing trees. Eyewitnesses claim that the reptile also swims well.
Many people know about the ability of a cobra to take an upright posture using up to 1/3 of its body.. Such a strange hang does not prevent the cobra from moving, and also serves as an instrument of dominance over neighboring cobras. The winner is the reptile who, having risen higher, will be able to “peck” her opponent into the crown. A humble cobra changes its vertical position to horizontal and ingloriously retreats.
Enemies of the king cobra
Hannah is, no doubt, extremely poisonous, but not immortal. And she has several natural enemies, which include:
- wild boars;
- serpent eagles;
The latter two do not give the King Cobras a chance of salvation, although they do not have innate immunity against the venom of the King Cobra. They have to rely solely on their reaction and dexterity, rarely letting them down. The mongoose, having seen the cobra, comes into hunting excitement and does not miss the chance to attack it.
The animal is aware of a certain retardation of Hannah and therefore applies a well-developed tactical technique: jump - bounce, and again rush into the fray. After a series of false attacks, one lightning-fast bite to the back of the head, leading to the death of the snake, follows.
Larger reptiles also threaten her offspring. But the most ruthless fighter of the royal cobra was the man who kills and catches these snakes.
Propagation and growth of king cobra
This snake belongs to the egg laying reptiles and is capable of laying as many as 70 eggs at a time. This rather large clutch of eggs is called a “clutch”. Some snake individuals wrap themselves around the masonry to control the temperature, but this basically indicates that the only reason the king cobra does this is to protect its eggs. Although both individuals (male and female) are always close to the eggs, as soon as someone is left alone, he immediately wraps himself tightly around the eggs. In addition to wrapping around eggs, the king cobra builds its nest, using for this purpose a collected bunch of the remains of dead vegetation. They are predators for both humans and other snakes.
Nutrition: snakes are especially common in the diet: kraits, cobras and others.
Conservation status. This species of snake has always had a low breeding density, and currently due to the destruction of the habitat, the number is declining. This destruction of the habitat forces the king cobra, defending its habitat, to attack violators, including often people.
Some more interesting facts about King Cobra
This snake is not really a cobra in the literal sense of the word, but it can be attributed to a separate species, one of a kind.
It is longer than a real cobra, and does not have a certain color in the hood. King cobra is able to raise up to one third of the length of its body during a coming attack or under the threat of its life. In addition, she may pursue her victim for some time in this vertical position. When the snake is in this position, it can reach a vertical height of up to 1.8 meters (6 feet).
Cobras feed on small rodents, birds (passerines and nests, for example, goats), lizards, frogs, toads, smaller snakes, eggs. King cobra eats exclusively reptiles, and lizards eat extremely rarely, and more often hunt other snakes. Its victims are usually the most poisonous species and the closest relatives of cobras - kraits and aspids. Cobras kill their prey with a bite, injecting the strongest poison into its body. It is interesting that cobras often bite their teeth into the victim and do not immediately release it, as if chewing, thereby providing the most effective introduction of the toxin.
King Cobra Poison
King cobra are able to regulate the consumption of poison during an attack, blocking the ducts of the toxic glands through muscle contractions. The amount of poison consumed depends on the size of the victim and is usually almost an order of magnitude higher than the lethal dose. The venom itself does not act on the neurotoxin snake, and it does not get poisoned when it eats a victim that has been poisoned by it. Most often, in an attempt to scare away a person, the snake makes “single” bites, without injecting poison at all.
Apparently, this is due to the fact that the cobra needs poison first of all for hunting, and accidental or unnecessary losses of poison are undesirable. King cobra venom has a mostly neurotoxic effect. The poison toxin blocks muscle contractions, which causes respiratory muscle paralysis, respiratory arrest and death.
Its strength and volume (up to 7 ml) is enough to cause the death of a person in 15 minutes after the first full bite. In such cases, the probability of death may exceed 75%. But, taking into account all the features of the behavior of the royal cobra, in general, only 10% of bites become fatal to humans. However, there were cases when even Indian elephants died three to four hours after the bite of a royal cobra, if the bite was applied to the end of the trunk or to the fingers (the only parts of the elephant’s body that are vulnerable to snake bites. In India, deaths from a bite of a royal cobra are rare, that every year from the bites of poisonous snakes in the country kills up to 50 thousand people.
Content of King Cobra House
Herpetologists consider this snake to be extremely interesting and extraordinary, but they advise beginners to think a hundred times before starting it at home. The main difficulty lies in accustoming the king cobra to a new food: you will not feed her with snakes, pythons and monitor lizards.
A more budget option (rats) is fraught with some difficulties:
- with prolonged feeding to rats, fatty degeneration of the liver is possible;
- According to some experts, rats as a feed adversely affect the reproductive functions of the snake.
It is interesting!Transferring a cobra to rats is very time consuming and can be done in two ways. At the first reptile, they are fed snakes sewn with rats, gradually reducing the proportion of snake meat. The second method involves washing the rat carcass from the smell and rubbing it with a piece of snake. Mice are excluded as feed.
Adult snakes need a terrarium with a length of at least 1.2 m. If a cobra is large - up to 3 meters (newborns have enough tanks with a length of 30-40 cm). For the terrarium you need to prepare:
- snags / branches (especially for young snakes);
- a large drinker (cobras drink a lot);
- substrate to the bottom (sphagnum, coconut or newspaper).
Keep the temperature in the terrarium within + 22 + 27 degrees. Remember that king cobras are very fond of moisture: air humidity should not fall below 60-70%. It is especially important to track these indicators at the time of molting reptiles.
The only period when the king cobra becomes vulnerable and therefore somewhat “cowardly” is molting. It occurs quite often, every two to three months, and lasts about 10 days. At this time, the snake is primarily concerned with the search for a secluded place, for which the human dwelling often takes. Of course, the king cobra in the house can cause a lot of trouble to its residents.
Cobra in culture
It is interesting that a respectful attitude to cobras was formed exactly where the largest and most poisonous species live - in India, Egypt. The fact is that the inhabitants of these countries, involuntarily sharing the common territory with the cobras, have well studied their customs and know that these snakes are predictable, calm, and therefore not dangerous. For a long time there was a peculiar profession of a snake charmer. It was captured by subtle observers who knew how to handle snakes so that their defensive reaction never turned into aggression. Cobras were worn in baskets or jugs, opening which the caster began to play the pipe and the snake seemed to go out and dance to the music.
Cobra and shiva
In fact, cobras, like all snakes, are deaf, but they react to the measured swaying of the pipe and track this “enemy” with a look, from the outside it looks like a dance. By skillful handling, the spellcasters could dull the snake's attention so much that they allowed themselves to kiss the snake, less skillful craftsmen preferred not to take risks and removed poisonous teeth to the cobra. However, contrary to the beliefs of most people, tooth extraction was not common. Firstly, a cobra, devoid of poison, is not only unable to catch, but also digest its prey, which means that it is doomed to slow starvation. Changing snakes every couple of months is a bother for the poor street strollers. Secondly, viewers could demand from the owner that he demonstrate the poisonous teeth of a cobra and then the fraudster would face shameful exile and lack of money. Only Indian and Egyptian cobras learned to tame.
In addition, in India, cobras often settled in temples, unlike living quarters, no one expelled them from here. Cobras not only personified wisdom and were the subject of worship, but also performed the secret function of guards. Night thieves, choking on treasures, had every chance in the dark to be bitten by a snake. History also knows more sophisticated ways of “using” cobras. They were often thrown into the dwelling of unwanted people whom they wanted to deal with without publicity and trial. It is reliably known that with the help of a cobra the legendary Egyptian Queen Cleopatra scored her life. Nowadays, cobras still pose a danger to humans. True, this danger is caused not so much by the snakes themselves as by the overpopulation of some regions - there are almost no places in nature where cobras could hide from humans.
Cobra on the mask of Tutankhamun
Such a neighborhood often turns into “conflicts”, annually from the bites of cobras in India (to a lesser extent in Africa), up to a thousand people die. On the other hand, there is an antidote against cobra venom, which is made in serpentariums. Cobra venom is also a valuable raw material for the production of a number of medicines. For this, snakes are caught and “milked”, one individual can give out several portions of poison, but its age in captivity is short, therefore these reptiles need protection. So, the Central Asian cobra is listed in the International Red Book.
Very accurately the habits of the cobras and their relationship with the mongooses were described by Rudyard Kipling in the story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi".