(Thailand King Cobra)
Thais say: Thai language sounds like Ngoo how chang, or ngoo chong ahng. There are many names for this snake.
Length: Max length about 5.8 meters. The presenter at the Saovabha Snake Farm in Bangkok said the largest king was caught in Nakhon si Thammarat in Thailand’s south, near Surat Thani province.
Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.
Notes: I’ve seen just one in the wild – and that was last night. Well, two. One I saw in a park – just the tail. I’m guessing it was a 8 meter King – but stats say that’s impossible. This was the biggest King in the world I’m guessing. It was massive… A very scary site. Kings are all over Thailand and can be found anywhere near houses, or really – anywhere. They are tremendously strong and smart animals. Please give the snake a large space and do not poke it with a stick. They are very fast too. The baby Kings can kill you too – their venom is every bit as toxic. Be careful please…
Habitat: Like many types of habitat. Dense forest near water and open grasslands. Love bamboo thickets for a nest. Ideal cover is a web of small bamboo growing about a meter high with soft bamboo leaves underneath. The King I found last night was up a limestone mountain about 100 meters vertically. In Thailand they are often found wherever Rat Snakes might be found since it’s their principle diet.
The guys at the cobra show find the Kings under palm branches in palm plantations. They lift up one end and throw it down – or smack it with sticks and sometimes Kings jump out. What a living, eh?
Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – found active during the daytime, but also at night.
Food: Other snakes – mostly the rat snakes. Occasionally they’ll eat other King Cobras, pythons, lizards, birds, rodents. I saw a 5m King attempting to eat a 2.5m reticulated python. The King appeared intimidated by the strength of the python – it’s no pushover. Here is a photo of a 3 meter king eating a 2 meter red tailed racer snake.
Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood of a King cobra doesn’t flare as wide… but, a big King will scare you much more because they can be 5 times as long as the monocled or other cobras! These snakes are not usually that afraid of people, and move slowly to ‘escape’ if they move away at all. Last night I moved a 4 meter King off some steps at a local temple so people could pass. It was not in ANY hurry, and came at me a couple of times. Impressive snakes, and be very afraid… I know a man personally, his brother was bitten on the chest and died in less than 10 minutes on the way to hospital.
Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, but monocled cobras (Naja kaouthia) and kraits (genus Bungarus) are more potent on the LD50 scale. The power of the King is in the volume of venom it can inject in one bite – maximum around 7ml! Kings can kill elephants with a bite.
Anti-Venin: There is a specific anti-venin for the king cobras, but if the hospital you are at does not have it there is an alternative. Tiger snake anti-venin can also work well.
Offspring: Lay eggs which they stay with in the nest until ready to hatch. When the eggs start to hatch the mother leaves because it eats other snakes primarily – and would likely eat the young. The young are fast, and deadly from the time they hatch. Juvenile king cobras from Thailand have yellow bands across their black bodies and heads. They look radically different from adult king cobra snakes.
Species: O. hannah
The kings in these photos are all beat up from bashing their faces against the cages at a snake show in Thailand. In the wild they are so beautiful… majestic… amazing snakes. I was so glad to see my first one in the wild last night. Even better to interact with it… Gotta love Thailand!
Video of a King Cobra breathing – you can hear it – very cool: