King Cobra

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The king cobra is the world's longest venomous snake, averaging 3.64 m (1213 feet) in length and typically weighing about 6 kg (13.2 lb). Despite their large size, king cobras are fast and agile. This species is widespread throughout Southeast Asia and parts of India, and is found mostly in forested areas. The king cobra can be fierce and agile, and can deliver a large quantity of highly potent venom in a single bite. It is one of the most dangerous and feared Asiatic snakes. The skin of this snake is either olive-green, tan, or black, and it has faint, pale yellow cross bands down the length of the body. The belly is cream or pale yellow, and the scales are smooth. Juveniles are shiny black with narrow yellow bands (can be mistaken for a banded krait, but readily identified with its expanded hood). The head of a mature snake can be quite massive and bulky in appearance, though like all snakes, they can expand their jaws to swallow large prey items. It has proteroglyph dentition, meaning it has two short, fixed fangs in the front of the mouth which channel venom into the prey like hypodermic needles. The male is larger and thicker than the female. The average lifespan of a king cobra is about 20 years. The king cobra is the sole member of genus Ophiophagus, while most other cobras are members of the genus Naja. They can be distinguished from other cobras by size and hood marks. King cobras are larger than other cobras, and the stripe on the neck is like the symbol "^" instead of a double or single eye(s) shape that may be seen in most of the other cobras. A foolproof method of identification if the head is clearly visible is the presence of a pair of large scales known as occipitals, at the back of the top of the head. These are behind the usual "nine-plate" arrangement typical of colubrids and elapids, and are unique to the king cobra. King cobras, like other snakes, receive chemical information via their forked tongues, which pick up scent particles and transfer them to a special sensory receptor, called the Jacobson's organ, located in the roof of its mouth. When the scent of a meal is detected, the snake flicks its tongue to gauge the prey's location ; it also uses its keen eyesight, intelligence and sensitivity to earth-borne vibration to track its prey. Following envenomation, the king cobra will begin to swallow its struggling prey while its toxins begin the digestion of its victim. The king cobra can be highly aggressive. When threatened, it raises up the anterior portion of its body, flattening the neck, showing the fangs and hissing loudly. Generally a typical snake hiss has a broad-frequency span with a dominant frequency near 7,500 Hz, whereas the "growl" of the king cobra consists of frequencies below 2,500 Hz, with a dominant frequency near 600 Hz. It is easily irritated by closely approaching objects or sudden movements. The king cobra attacks quickly, and the strike distance is about 2 m (7 feet); people can easily misjudge the safe distance. The king cobra may deliver multiple bites in a single attack, or bite and hold on. Although it is a highly dangerous snake, it prefers to escape unless it is cornered or provoked. If a king cobra encounters a natural predator, such as the mongoose, which has some resistance to the neurotoxins, the snake generally tries to flee. If unable to do so, it forms the distinctive cobra hood and emits a hiss, sometimes with feigned closed-mouth strikes. These efforts usually prove to be very effective, especially since it is more dangerous than other mongoose prey, as well as being much too large for the small mammal to kill with ease. The king cobra's genus name, Ophiophagus, means "snake-eater", and its diet consists primarily of other snakes, including ratsnakes, sizeable pythons and even other venomous snakes. When food is scarce, they may also feed on other small vertebrates, such as lizards, birds, and rodents. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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