10 Incredible King Cobra Facts (No Other Snake Does #7!)

king cobra bite

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: August 18, 2023

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Of all the snakes that exist in the world today, king cobras are among the most interesting. They have an iconic, instantly recognizable look. They’re also important cultural symbols in Asia. Since they are so interesting, we have decided to look at the 10 most incredible king cobra facts. We’ll show you what makes these reptiles so unique, dangerous, and fascinating!

The king cobra is the only snake known to scientists that build a nest until the young are born.

The Top 10 Incredible King Cobra Facts

close up of a king cobra

The king cobra is the longest venomous snake.

King cobras are rather complicated creatures. You’re bound to find out something new as you read through these facts! Some of these facts will give you a renewed sense of respect or fear of these venomous snakes.

10. They Are the Largest Venomous Snake in the World!

King cobra baby

They may start out small, like this king cobra baby, but most of the time, these snakes only grow between 9ft and 12ft.

King cobras are the world’s largest venomous snakes. The biggest snake of this species ever discovered was 18.8ft long. Most of the time, these snakes only grow between 9ft and 12ft. Some researchers believe that these snakes can only grow to a maximum length of about 20ft. The largest discovered specimen was close to the largest possible snake!

Of course, they are not the largest snake overall. An anaconda or reticulated python can easily surpass the king cobra’s length.

9. King Cobras Have a Neurotoxin Venom

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) The world's longest venomous snake

The king cobra’s venom can result in necrosis at the site of the envenomation.

The king cobra uses a neurotoxic venom that damages the nervous system. When injected with this venom, a human will suffer multiple types of nervous system failures. These can lead to cardiac arrest and the inability to breathe.

This venom stands in contrast with hemotoxic venom which kills blood cells and muscle. However, the king cobra’s venom can result in necrosis at the site of the envenomation.

8. King Cobras Are the Only Snake That Builds a Nest for Their Young

King Cobra - Close Up

King cobras protect their young from harm while rarely eating themselves

The king cobra is the only snake known to scientists that build a nest until the young are born. They will defend these nests with great ferocity. These snakes can lay up to 40 eggs at a time, and they are placed in a nest that includes vegetation, living or decomposing.

The nest is usually well camouflaged by the items used in its construction. The snake will then rest on top of the nest, using its deadly bite and threat display to frighten away any curious creatures or humans.  

7. A Weird King Cobra Fact: They Eat Other Cobras!

King Cobra eat venomous green viper

King cobras eat other snakes and many of them are venomous.

Snakes are high on the list of the preferred diet of king cobras. They will often consume snakes that do not pose much of a threat to them. For example, they will eat pythons and rat snakes, some of which are even close to them in size.

King cobras also eat other venomous snakes like Indian cobras as well as king cobras. Their cannibalism might just reduce the number of dangerous snakes lurking in areas with humans.

6. The King Cobra is Not a True Cobra

Deadliest Snakes - Indian Cobra

Don’t let the hood fool you: Not all cobras are king cobras.

The king cobra is not a true cobra since it does not belong to the Naja genus of snakes. This snake belongs to its own genus called Ophiophagus.

However, it’s easy to confuse the king cobra for one of these other elapids. They share the ability to spread their neck flesh into a hood and draw themselves up as part of their threat response. Since they are such large snakes, they got the moniker “king” to go along with their mistaken identity.

5. These Snakes Can Live for 20 Years

King cobra, Ophiophagus hannah is a venomous snake species of elapids endemic to jungles in Southern and Southeast Asia, goa india 

King cobras are the longest venomous snake in the world and can reach 18 feet long.

King cobras live in places that are rife with deadly wildlife. Although they exist in areas with such a high potential for danger, they are high on the food chain but not quite an apex predator. Since they eat much of their competition and can hide from their predators, king cobras can survive for quite a while.

A king cobra can survive for 20 years in the wild, and more than that if they are cared for in captivity.

4. Each Bite Has Enough Venom to Kill 20 People or an Elephant

king cobra bite

King cobras inject enough of their potent venom in a single bite to kill 20 people.

King cobras have one of the deadliest bites in the world. While they do not kill as many people as the Indian cobra or Russell’s viper, they inject enough of their potent venom in a single bite to kill 20 people. If they were to bite an elephant, the large animal would succumb and die.

King cobras are not snakes to be trifled with because they are incredibly deadly and powerful.

3. King Cobras’ Hoods Aren’t Always Spread Out

King cobra studio shot

As part of their threat response, they will flex the muscles and expand the ribs on their neck to create the iconic hooded look.

Some people believe that king cobras have flared hoods all the time. That’s not the case, though. King cobras actually have a somewhat small head until they feel threatened. As part of their threat response, they will flex the muscles and expand the ribs on their neck to create the iconic hooded look.

2. King Cobras Fear the Mongoose

What Eats Snakes

Mongooses are noted for their audacious attacks on highly venomous snakes, such as king cobras.

The mongoose preys on the king cobra, and they do so very successfully. Mongooses are very tough customers for cobras because they have a high level of agility. That allows them to dance around their foes and attack them from many different angles.

All the mongoose needs to do is get behind the cobra, harass it to make the snake turn the right way, and then move in for the kill! Mongooses are believed to have some immunity to the cobra’s venom, but they cannot survive repeated bites. They have little room for error when they’re hunting these deadly snakes, but they’re very good at it.

1. You Can Find King Cobras on the Ground, in the Water, and in Trees!

king cobra snake

You need to keep an eye out for king cobras because they can be anywhere

The king cobra is a terrifying snake because it is known for spending time in tall vegetation. A person could be working on a farm or cutting across a field and suddenly getting bitten. To make matters worse, king cobras are not only found on the ground.

King cobras are very good swimmers, and they often swim across bodies of water for food or to escape dangerous situations. The chances are low that you’ll encounter one of these snakes in the water. However, they do not go out of their way to bite people while swimming.

Another slightly terrifying fact about king cobras is that they can climb trees very well. That means you need to consider looking up from time to time if you’re in a territory where king cobras are common!

The king cobra is a large, dangerous creature that should be admired and treated with a healthy amount of respect. If you encounter one in the wild, you need to make sure you keep an eye on the snake while safely getting out of the area. Many people get bitten trying to handle these snakes, and that is a potentially deadly mistake. Using the knowledge gleaned from our 10 incredible king cobra facts, you’ll know why you should steer clear of these animals!

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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