Robert Abrams sent me some photos of a snake he said washed over Menora waterfall he was relaxing at, the location is about 40 km outside of Ampur Muang, Phattalung province, southern Thailand. It was none other than the ultimate venomous snake, the king cobra.
In his words –
“It was raining very heavy that day. Some friends and I went swimming at a waterfall outside the town where we teach. All the sudden it was swept down into the pool where we were sitting. It was pretty stunned, i think it was in shock because the water was abnormally cold. It also had a break in the scales along its side. It was still alive at the time. It almost managed to make it out of the water, a friend and I tried to get a stick but by the time we found one it had been swept further down stream. It may well have survived, but i doubt it. I think enough time in that cold water and the beating it took going over waterfalls would eventually finish it off.”
Amazing! Some people never get to see a king cobra in the wild – and this one almost dropped in Robert’s lap.
I’m glad he didn’t reach it with a stick like he was trying to. Originally he thought it was a rat snake, which is harmless.
It looks to me like the snake was probably run over by a motorbike or other vehicle and went back into the wilderness to try to mend itself. It was likely ready to die though. That looks like a wicked injury.
It’s a sensational headline, but I thought it was important that you read this if you handle venomous snakes at all – and even if you don’t. (King cobra video below)
I got a call from my friend this morning. He told me they caught a 2+ meter king cobra at a palm plantation the night before. He said it was super fast.
King Cobras are fast when young…
Well, my first thought was – when they’re young and smaller like that – under 3-4 meters – yeah, they are quite quick. The juveniles up until about 2 meters are usually fast. I have yet to work personally with a king cobra less than 2.5 meters. I want to – but, will respect their speed a lot more. The juvenile king cobras are like a completely different snake than the big ones. They move differently – darting their heads around constantly, and very fast and short motions. The bigger kings are more deliberate in their movements and are much slower, even when straight from the wild. Not to call them slow – but, you can work with them to some degree without dying.
I took the motorbike over to see the snake after lunch. My friend was sleeping on a bench. I woke him up with a clamp down on his foot – as if a snake bit him. He didn’t jump or anything, so I was disappointed my trick didn’t work. No matter – he woke right up and showed me the beast.
He told me it had eaten two red tailed racers that morning, both of which were about 2 meters in length – but thin. I figured the king would be a bit slow and conserving energy as it digested all that food. I was so wrong.
This king cobra was black with light bands – very light, I wouldn’t call the bands yellow- they were more like a yellow/green. It was under 2.5 meters and over 2.0. It had a very long hood – and was really gorgeous to look at. My friend always goes the extra mile… when he opened up the gate and showed him his face we got a big surprise from this snake.
See the video of this super fast Ophiophagus hannah below:
This king came up that tree stump faster than any snake I’ve ever seen. Not that I’ve seen it all – however, I have seen many fast snakes – rat snakes of all sorts, tree snakes, big, small, thin and fast… and no snake has ever pulled one of these maneuvers on me.
I wanted to post this to give you an idea that you “think you know a snake” – but then one will do something you’ve never seen before. This has happened to me often as I learn more about monocled and king cobras. I’ve probably spent 200 hours working with them and studying them – watching other people work with them. I learned a whole lot in the first 50 hours and still, I’m always learning new behaviors and what these snakes are capable of.
Every snake species has a range of behaviors that they can exhibit. Snake handlers know, in general, what a snake is capable of – because it’s a certain species. However, there are snakes within the species, that, for whatever reason – learned behaviors that are different from most of the other snakes – and when they exhibit them – it can surprise the hell out of you.
Be careful with venomous snakes of all sorts – and never take them for granted.
A king cobra let out of the bag for photos – almost turns deadly!
Be careful up there guys!
King cobras are dangerous not because they are super fast, not because they have the worst venom in the world (they don’t), and not because they are so big.
They are so dangerous because they are so damn unpredictable, and because they are so big, they can do things that are hard to judge – and difficult to avoid. The guy grabbing the tail of the king cobra in this video has worked with kings for years. He thought he was far enough away that the king couldn’t come in that fast. Unfortunately, this king was energized and quickly flipped back for a bite at the crotch.
Then, when it missed, the mouth is still open looking for something to bite. It was not happy at all.
I handle king cobras very, VERY rarely. In the open area like this the king can move quickly because there are some plants and uneven ground it can use to grip the surface. It’s nothing like a road or flat, smooth dirt spot.
I caught a reticulated python crossing the road a few days back. A couple of copperheaded racers (rat snakes) in the last couple weeks. Other than that there are few snakes out and about in southern Thailand these days.
The weather has changed and it’s COLD at night now. This is the time the Thailand snakes go into a sort of hibernation and will be out of sight for a few months until it warms up. March, April is when the snakes start coming out to look for water because it’s going to be seriously dry until May.
In fact, my friends say March / April is the time to look for King Cobras – and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. They are near the water during this time – and come daily to the streams to drink.
If you want to see king cobras in the wild – come to Thailand during this time and we’ll try to find some for you. Keep in mind – nothing is assured. There are not herds of King Cobras running around the streams – it’s still difficult to find them.
You have the best chance of seeing them in the wild at this time though – so, book a trip!
A reader sent me this small image of a king cobra found while he was on vacation in Laos. The king cobras in the northeast of Thailand are dark like this – black even, and they all have these light colored bands across the body. This one looks to be a juvenile king cobra because even the head is banded. As the snake matures it loses that and the head becomes a solid color.
He said this cobra headed down the steps and into the Mekhong River.