Tuesday, June 5, 2012

King Cobra Facts

  • King Cobras are just one type of cobra.  Overall, there are hundreds of different types.
  • King Cobras are the only snake in the world that build a nest for their young, just like a bird, but on the ground!
  • King Cobras lay 20-40 eggs in a nest, which is faithfully guarded by female her mate.  The incubation time is 60-90 days.
  • King Cobra young are called hatchlings since they come from eggs.  Hatchlings are about 50cm long.
  • King Cobras (Ohiophagus hannah) eats other snakes!  The Latin word for "snake-eater" is ophiophagus.
  • Cobras are the only snake in the world that can spit their venom, and they are accurate up to about half their own length!
  • King Cobras are the longest venomous snake in the world!  The average male grows 18 feet long, and some have been known to grow more than 20 feet long.
  • Cobras are not blind, in fact they see very well even at night.
  • Cobras have a "Jacobsen's Organ" (like most snakes) that gives it super smelling ability.  They can sense tiny changes in temperature, which helps them track their prey at night.
  • Cobras typically live to 20 years old or more in the wild.
  • Cobras are at the top of the food chain.  Their only natural predators are the mongoose, and man.
  • Cobras venom is not the strongest there is, but cobras can inject so much venom in a single bite that they can kill an elephant.  Sea snakes have deadlier venom, and rattlesnakes have weaker venom. 
  • Most cobras are shy, and run and hide when people are around.  The exception is King Cobras, who are aggressive, and will rear up and stand their ground when confronted.
  • Cobras are not poisonous, they are venomous.  This means that even though they have deadly venom in their sacs, the rest of the snake is edible to predators, if they are brave enough to try!
  • Many snake charmers remove the fangs or the venom sacs from their snakes, because it is too dangerous.  This practice is illegal, and is considered inhumane to the snake.
  • Cobras eat birds, fish, frogs, toads, lizards, eggs and chicks raided from poultry houses, in addition to small mammals such as rabbits and rats, and even other snakes.
  • Cobras are very intelligent, and can learn quickly, which helps them avoid dangerous areas.
  • King Cobras mainly inhabit Southern Asia, Northern Africa and the Philippines.  Other species of cobras roam as far as Australia, New Guinea, and most of the Eastern hemisphere.
  • It is illegal to keep a cobra as a pet in most places, because they are so dangerous.
  • Cobras can hear, although they sense sound through contact with the ground much better than humans.
  • Cobras don't always inject venom when they bite something.  They can do a "dry bite" if they want to.
  • Baby cobras have full strength venom and can defend themselves fully like their parents.
  • The male King Cobra stays with the female and her eggs, and takes turns guarding the nest and hunting.
  • A cobras hoods is created by the extension of the ribs behind the snakes' head.
  • Cobras vary in weight from only a few ounces for a typical African Ringhals, to 35 lbs. for a large King.
  • The best special medicine given to cobra bite victims, called "antivenin", is made from cobra venom.
  • Cobras are revered in India and Southeast Asia. The Hindus consider them manifestations of Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration. The Buddhists believe a massive cobra spread its hood over the Buddha to protect him from the sun while he meditated. Cobra images guard the entrances of many Buddhist and Hindu temples. King Cobras have also been worshipped as sun deities and associated with rain, thunder, and fertility. On the annual lunar holiday of Nag Panchami, Hindus refrain from plowing and field work out of respect for cobras.

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