Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



King cobra

By MSA 2005 Map showing tropical forests and grassland habitats in Asia


Class Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Elapidae
Genus and species: Ophiophagus hannah

Reaching a length of 18 feet, the king cobra is the longest of all venomous snakes. When threatened, a cobra will flare its distinctive neck ribs to open its hood and raise as much as one-third of their bodies straight off the ground.

King cobras are equipped with the weapons to back up this aggressive display as well. One single cobra bite can deliver enough neurotoxin to kill 20 people.

The king cobra is able to maneuver on land, in trees, and in the water. It finds its food in all of these places, feasting on snakes, lizards, eggs, and small mammals.

After mating between January and April, female king cobras will construct nests from sticks and leaves in which to lay their eggs. They typically produce 20 to 50 eggs at a time. The hatchlings emerge about 70 days later.

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