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King Cobra

King Cobra
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Ophiophagus hannah

The King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is a large venomous snake of the family Elapidae.

The largest venomous snake in the world, it can reach a length of up to 5.5 metres (although around 3.5 metres is more common) and can weigh up to 10 kilograms. In colour the skin is black, greenish or brown, often with white or yellow bars. It is a native of South-east Asia, inhabiting the forests of India, Malaysia and the Philippines, though not Sri Lanka. It hunts many small vertebrates, notably other snakes, hunting during the day by sight. As it lacks cutting teeth, captured prey is swallowed whole.

Unlike most other snakes the King Cobra builds a nest, laying between 20 and 40 eggs in the spring, two months after breeding, with the eggs hatching within 60 to 80 days. The hatchlings are between 45-50 cm in length and marked with black and white banding.

The scientific name is derived from the Greek ophis (a snake) and phagein (to eat); it feeds almost entirely on other snakes, even venomous ones. The name hannah is taken to mean a giant. There are no known subspecies.