As the longest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra is a force to be reckoned with. Its average length is anywhere from 10 to 13 feet! Not only that, but the largest ever king cobra reached an incredible 18.8 feet in length
Though it’s not a “true” cobra, this massive serpent is considered the national reptile of India. It’s gained quite a reputation for its extremely aggressive nature, painful and deadly bite, and enormous size. But are there any snakes that are even longer than a king cobra?
It turns out, there actually are a handful of snakes that manage to regularly outgrow king cobras in length! Most of them are non-venomous members of the Boidae or Pythonidae families. Let’s take a look at five of the most notable ones below!
1. Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)
As one of the longest snakes in the entire world, the Burmese python is capable of reaching incredible lengths! Though they aren’t venomous, they’re powerful constrictors with extremely strong jaws and abdominal muscles. Native to Southeast Asia, these snakes are strong swimmers and highly aquatic in nature, always living close to water.
The Burmese python’s average length is around 15 feet, but they can occasionally exceed 20 feet in length! This makes them longer than the typical king cobra by several feet. They display a fair degree of sexual dimorphism, primarily in regards to their size. Females are much heavier and slightly longer than males. As a result, most of the largest and longest individual Burmese pythons are female.
Notably, they’re also among the heaviest snakes in the world as well. An individual Burmese python named Baby managed to reach an astounding 403 pounds and nearly 19 feet long. That’s one big “Baby!”
Interestingly, though, despite its size and strength, the Burmese python is a fairly mild-mannered snake! It can take multiple handlers just to hold one of these snakes, but that’s mainly due to how large and heavy they are rather than any serious danger the snakes pose to humans. Still, despite their docile nature and popularity in the pet trade, they can be responsible for painful bites and other constriction-related injuries if startled or mishandled.
2. African Rock Python (Python sebae)
As one of the largest constrictors in the Pythonidae family, the African rock python is an absolute titan of a snake! Native to sub-Saharan Africa, it is highly adaptable and able to live comfortably in a wide range of environments. However, it strongly prefers staying near water in low-lying forests and swamps. It is a strong swimmer and hunts much of its prey, such as fishes and amphibians, in bodies of water.
The African rock python is Africa’s largest snake. Its average length is around 10 to 13 feet, but many individuals manage to exceed 15 feet in length! Because it is also so large, strong, and heavy-bodied, it is capable of swallowing large animals like goats, warthogs, monitor lizards, and even antelopes with ease.
Thankfully, it is fairly non-aggressive towards humans, but the African rock python wouldn’t have much trouble swallowing a small human if it tried! A handful of scattered cases of attacks on humans, as well as a few fatalities, have been documented, but the credibility of these reports vary.
Most instances of human deaths caused by this snake are small children. However, in one particularly gruesome case, an eight-foot African rock python managed to constrict and suffocate its owner. In another horrific incident, a python suffocated a 13-year-old South African boy.
Fortunately, cases like these are very rare and usually poorly substantiated, but it just goes to show that venom is far from the only factor when it comes to how deadly a snake can be.
3. Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor)
Also sometimes referred to as the red-tailed boa, the boa constrictor is another one of the world’s heaviest and longest snakes. Their lengths can vary significantly, ranging anywhere from as little as 4 feet to as long as 14 feet, but the longest recorded individuals are around 12 to 14 feet. This makes these snakes about a foot or two longer than the average king cobra!
Native to South America and a few Caribbean islands, the boa constrictor is highly adaptable and can easily thrive in a variety of habitats. As it is a very strong swimmer, though, it typically prefers to live in humid forests near bodies of water.
Boa constrictors are non-venomous and kill their prey by–as you might have guessed–constriction! They usually hunt at night, seeking out small to medium-sized prey like rodents, birds, and occasionally lizards. As ambush predators, they typically lie in wait until an animal crosses their path. They will then strike with incredible speed, latching onto the animal with their teeth and rapidly coiling their bodies around the prey until it suffocates.
Fortunately, these snakes are solitary and reclusive, so they don’t often cross paths with or attack humans. They’re also fairly docile despite their massive size and have become popular in the pet trade amongst experienced reptile hobbyists. They are most dangerous and unpredictable while shedding, as translucent scales cover their eyes and obscure their vision for much of the process. This can leave them easily startled by sudden movements or sounds.
4. Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)
Up next, we have another gargantuan snake in terms of both length and weight. In fact, this species is one of the longest and heaviest in the world. They usually weigh upwards of 100 pounds as adults, and their length range varies significantly from around 5 feet to as long as 22 feet. This means these snakes can be anywhere from 5 to 10 feet longer than the typical king cobra!
The longest recorded individual, a pet reticulated python in Kansas City named Medusa, managed to reach just over 25 feet long! She also weighed a record-breaking 350 pounds.
These snakes’ beautiful scale patterning and coloration, their massive size, and their relatively docile and curious nature make them surprisingly popular zoo exhibits and even pets. In more recent years, they have been selectively bred to produce unique color morphs, such as the unique and attractive albino variety.
Unfortunately, reticulated pythons can be unpredictable while feeding, so it takes a trained expert to handle and care for these beautiful beasts. It often takes several grown adults just to hold and move a fully-grown python of this species! Though they aren’t naturally violent or aggressive towards humans, they can and often do cause serious accidental bite and constriction injuries.
Reticulated pythons are native to Southeast Asia. Like most pythons, they are highly aquatic and very strong swimmers. They prefer warm, humid, low-lying forests, and they’re never far from a lake or a stream.
5. Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)
We end this list with the remarkable yellow anaconda, a snake that is visually stunning thanks to both its unique coloration and its very, very large size. Its average length ranges from around 11 to 14 feet! This makes this snake anywhere from 1 to 3 feet longer than the typical king cobra.
Like many similar Boidae species, yellow anacondas display slight sexual dimorphism, mainly in terms of their size. Females are usually both longer and heavier than males of the species. It isn’t too uncommon for female yellow anacondas to exceed 15 feet in length! Their average weight is also impressive at around 50 to 80 pounds, with some especially large individuals occasionally exceeding 100 pounds.
The yellow anaconda is native to South America, mainly in countries like Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. It is highly aquatic, usually residing in warm, low-lying, densely forested marshes and swamps. Humans have also introduced the species to South Florida.
Unlike some of the more docile species on this list, yellow anacondas are notoriously unpredictable. It is illegal to import or transport them in the United States, so they aren’t popular pets, even amongst the most experienced handlers.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sibons photography/Shutterstock.com
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