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The sssensational king cobra

Hi everyone! My name is Sam, and I am a Herpetology Keeper here at Zoo Atlanta. Today I’d like to talk about the ever-popular and famous king cobra! King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world, reaching up to 18 feet in length. These intelligent predators are great swimmers and climbers and can see their prey as far as 330 feet away! The scientific name for the king cobra is Ophiophagus hannah. Ophiophagus is derived from the Greek meaning “snake-eating,” and Hannah is derived from the name of tree-dwelling nymphs in Greek mythology. That’s very fitting since king cobras live in the highland dense forest areas of India through Southeast Asia.

King cobras are known for eating snakes as their primary diet, but will also eat lizards, frogs, rodents, birds, and eggs. Due to destruction of habitat and hunting, the king cobra is now listed as a “Vulnerable” species and is protected by law in India. Despite their impressive size and fearsome reputation, these beautiful creatures are generally shy and avoid human interaction as much as possible. However, they are equally just as intimidating when they feel threatened, lifting the first third of their entire body straight up into the air and letting out a deep rumbling hiss that wards off most predators!

Have you ever wondered how a cobra forms that classic hood shape? They use their own ribs and flex eight different sets of muscles at once! Female kings are very attentive mothers during nesting season. They take the time to gather large amounts of foliage to use as a mound for their eggs. A female will spend the entire incubation period guarding her eggs from any predators until her babies have hatched. Now that’s dedication! Next time you come to Zoo Atlanta, don’t forget to stop by Scaly Slimy Spectacular and visit the ssssss-sensational king cobra!
Sam Johnson
Keeper III, Herpetology

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