THE REPTILE WITH CROWN
“A few Cobras in your home will soon clear it of Rats and Mice. Of course, you will still have the Cobras.”
The King Cobra is one of my favourite snakes in the world. I didn’t met this majestic snake in nature since I haven’t been a lot in Asian countries but indeed looking forward to capture them with lenses of my camera, once when I am exploring India. They are simply beautiful, intelligent and elegant but also very aggressive and with pretty much short temper. If you don’t want to face up with dangerous outcome, don’t provoke the King Cobra.
It is not just the longest venomous snake in the world, this reptile is the most authentic for many of its features. The scientists report that those animals could be long between 10-12 feet (3-3,5 meters) and to reach weight up to 20 pounds ( 9 kg). When the cobra stands, it can be eye to eye with the human being it sees as an enemy, at that moment. This snake is known to be fast and furious in reaction against the threat, so it doesn’t surprise that could lift up the third of its body when it develops the senses of being endangered.
This gracious animal is usually described as the snake with hood or pharaoh snake. That is exactly the attribute that make those reptiles so original and marvellous. The hood is nothing added but the part of the snake rib bones and muscles , that can move. This is visible when the King Cobra is trying to shape dangerous look, standing up and warning the potential victim that might be attack soon, if nothing is changed. If the threat is still there, this snake wont hesitate to defend itself spiting the venom:“Poisonous snakes are generally divided into two types of venom classifications: neurotoxic and hemotoxic. A neurotoxin is any poison that directly affects the nervous system of a human or animal. Hemotoxins, on the other hand, affect the bloodstream and are usually the kind found in rattlesnakes and vipers. The venom of a king cobra is neurotoxic, and when it strikes, a very small amount — mere ounces — is produced. Even just this small amount can send its prey into paralysis. Moreover, it’s so incredibly poisonous that a human can die within minutes of being bitten. A large animal, such as an elephant, can die in several hours.”
In spite of their name, they do not share the category of common cobras. They are the sole members of Ophiophagus, which means they are closer to mambas than to the common cobras, with the complete pattern of behaviour. What is very interesting about them is that they are considered to be cannibals, basing their diet on eating another snakes. They have such an advanced digesting system they they process the venom of other snakes, with no problem. Of course, they can eat another animals like small rodents or birds, but they feed themselves mostly on other snakes. Since they do not have teeth, their jaw is very elastic, so they are able to swallow the large prey in short period of time. In the case that there are no food, they can survive for some weeks, even months, without eating and living on its reserves. Regarding the water, they absorb via their belly the necessary amount of water when they are sliding through the wet surface.
What about the psychology of those mystical snakes with crown ? The most interesting fact, at least for me, is that they are the only kind of snake that is making the nest. The female cobra is devoted mother because it is preparing and building the best for eggs, usually in the spring. The nest is hidden, protected with big walls and safe. This mom will stay for months with up to 50 eggs to take care of them till the moment they are hatching. The young cobras are immediately independent and able to protect themselves but unfortunately not many survive the challenge of the environments. Only when the King Cobra reaches the 4th year of life, could be taken into consideration as completely mature.
We know that they love rainforest and tropical climate but they also do avoid conflicts with human or animals that arent in their food chain. When they are confronting some of them, they usually warn before they strike. In many situations, they run away and do not start any conflict. They are very good climbers and swimmers but still afraid of only one animal and that is the little but brave mongoose. The funny critter is not big but immune on the snake venom and if it is a war between them, the mongoose will be mostly a winner. However, those mammals don’t hunt cobras intentionally but just for defend. This shows that nobody is above the rule of jungle book, nobody can cheat the Mother Nature.
The pharaoh snakes have a long lifespan and they can survive all changes in the ecosystem and even they can adapt. Nevertheless, the species is endangered and categorised as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The human factor and loss of habitat, as well as decoration and greed of mankind, decided the sad destiny of those brilliant reptiles. The people produce themselves with no control and limit and the King Cobra population is dropping rapidly down. These snakes belong the the group of very intelligent and amazing reptiles that have a very significant role in the complete environment. The problem is lack of education by locals that have fear from cobras and hunt them and kill them, with no reason. You will learn about the whole villages that live in harmony with King Cobras but you will also hear about lunatics who kill them, illegally hunt and smuggle for a hand of dollars. The King Cobra skin is very demanded and also its venom, especially on black wildlife market.
For example, Vietnam did a great thing and the King Cobra is protected species. There are zones where those animals are free to move and live, even being monitored and guarded by some wildlife rangers and scientists that try to learn about those animals as much as possible. They are still such a big mystery for all.
The King Cobra Conservancy is working active on countermeasures for those snakes and their protection within our society. They try to push local governments on advanced level of eco thinking but they also try to inform residents about the importance of those hoodie snakes.
There is a place for every single creature in this awesome world. We just need to show more compassion, higher awareness for nature and vegetation and also to work devoted on eliminating criminals and their profit from illegals wildlife market and crime against exotic and rare animals.
This is task and mission of all of us. The King Cobra needs us.