Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Snake killer supreme

Snake killer supreme
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.

King cobra
Ophiophagus hannah

Meet the longest venomous snake in the world. A king cobra can reach upto 17 feet in length. While it is not the most poisonous, it can deliver big doses enough to kill an elephant or 20 humans.

Scientists have placed King Cobra in a separate genus. It is much larger than normal cobras and its diet and behaviour show some differences. It is also considered more intelligent than cobras. But King cobra also has a threatening hood like other cobras and rear its head high enough to stare a man in his eyes.

Its scientific name ophiophagus means snake eater. He prefers other snakes for food. Rat snakes, cobras, smaller king cobras and even pythons.

It is the only snake that builds nests for the eggs. Curiously the mother which hangs around protectively leaves the nest just before eggs hatch. One theory is that the mother is so famished, she does not want to get tempted to eat her babies!

Despite their fearsome defence capability, they are said to avoid unnecessary confrontations. Rom Whitaker, brain behind the Madras crocodile park, is said to have encountered king cobras in the wild several times and every time they tried to slip away.

Incidentally king cobras rarely breed in captivity and Madras Crocodile bank has managed to do that.

King cobras are becoming more and mroe rare in India due to habitat loss.