The Largest King Cobra in the World

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: August 9, 2023
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Key Points

  • King Cobras are not actually cobras, but instead part of the Ophiophagus family. They frequently eat other cobras.
  • King Cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world usually between 9-12 feet long.
  • The longest King Cobra on record, captured in Malaysia in 1937, was 18.8 feet long.

An average living room is 16ft x 20ft, so if you were relaxing on your couch and saw a snake sprawled along the length of your wall, it might possibly be a king cobra (depending on where you live and if there were any escapees from the local zoo!). King Cobras are not found in the U.S. but live in Southeast Asia and India. They average 9-12 feet long but some can get quite a bit larger. King Cobras are the longest venomous snake in the world! They get their intimidating name because they are known to eat other snakes, including 10ft long pythons! As venomous snakes, they are able to use their fangs to puncture their prey and release a venom that paralyzes their prey and allows them to swallow the prey whole. Let’s take a look at some of the largest King Cobras and find out how big the largest king cobra ever was!

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But First: King Cobras are not actually Cobras!

Egyptian cobra on a black background

King cobras are not part of the Naja group of snakes, which means unlike the Egyptian cobra above, they’re not true cobras!


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Looking at the species of cobras, you won’t find King Cobras on the list.

So-called “true cobras” are all of the Naja genera. They can be found in a large portion of the world, including Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Cobras can be identified by their hollow and venomous fangs and signature hoods. But King Cobras belong to a different group known as Ophiophagus. Their name literally means “snake eaters” and they most frequently eat other cobras.

King cobras do share the same physical features as many cobras as longer snakes that can create a fanned hood around their head when threatened. It should be noted the king cobra has a narrower hood than other cobra species.

They can also raise the front third of their slithery bodies off the ground to raise up and look threatening.

How Big was the Largest King Cobra Ever?

King cobra

The largest king cobra on record was displayed in the London Zoo and measured nearly 19 feet in length.

©Eric Isselee/

The largest King Cobra ever recorded dates back to the second World War and measured 5.7 meters (18.8 feet) in length! According to the Guinness World Records, this snake was captured in Malaysia in April 1937. Its enormous size brought lots of attention and it was moved to the London Zoo for more to see. Unfortunately, this snake lived during World War II when many zoos had to make the difficult decision to kill some of their animals to protect the public against escaped animals after bombings. The movie The Zookeepers Wife tells the story of the Warsaw Zoo and how they tried to save as many animals as possible during this time.

Where Was This Snake Caught?

Malaysia is a country located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Thailand to the north, Singapore to the south, Indonesia to the west, and the South China Sea to the east. To get there, one can take a flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport or other major airports in Malaysia, such as Penang International Airport or Kota Kinabalu International Airport. On a map, Malaysia can be found between 2 and 7 degrees north latitude and 100 and 119 degrees east longitude.

Are King Cobras the Longest Snakes in the World?

King cobras are not the longest snakes in the world, pythons can get much longer. Pythons are not venomous, but like boa constrictors, they wrap around their prey and squeeze, waiting until the animal can no longer breathe and dies. Indian Pythons can grow to be 20 feet long! They are also much thicker than cobras and can weigh up to 150 lbs. Burmese pythons can grow to be 23 feet long and you could actually run into one in Florida! They are not native to the United States but there have been enough that have escaped, or been released, as pets to create a large breeding population in several counties around the Everglades. Yikes!

The longest snake in the world is the reticulated python which can grow to 29ft and is also a huge snake at 500 lbs! These snakes live in countries like India, Borneo, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The Guinness Book of Records has the longest snake ever recorded a reticulated python from Indonesia back in 1912 that was 32ft long, think about 10 yards on a football field, now that is a long snake!

Are King Cobras the Heaviest Snakes?

What Do Anacondas Eat - Pet Anaconda

Green anacondas are the heaviest snakes in the world.

©Holger Kirk/

While King Cobras are the longest venomous snake, they are not very heavy. They are a skinnier snake that only weighs about 15-20 lbs. Compare that to some of the non-venomous snakes and they don’t seem so scary. While the Reticulated Pythons can get to be 500lbs the Green Anaconda are just a tad heavier at 550lbs! These enormous snakes are so big they can eat a crocodile, and they do. They also eat other large animals like capybaras, pigs, and even deer. Think about the size of a deer that you might have seen at the park or wandering through your backyard. Green Anacondas could eat those for dinner.

What is the Largest Snake in Captivity?

The largest snake in captivity is appropriately named Medusa and “works” at a Haunted House in Kansas City, MO. The Guinness World Record’s measured her in 2011, with 10 people holding her from head to tail to get an accurate measurement. Medusa is a reticulated python and tips the scales at around 400 lbs (depending on when she last ate!). So just how long is she? 25 feet 2 inches!

Are King Cobras the Longest Venomous Snakes?

close up of a king cobra

The king cobra is the longest venomous snake.


Yes! king cobras hold the title for the Longest Venomous Snake (Specimen) and Longest Venomous Snake (Species). They average 9-12 feet (3-4 meters). They are also one of the top ten most venomous snakes, not because of the concentration of venom but because of the sheer volume. The amount of venom produced can kill an elephant in just a few hours!

While the King Cobra may hold the record for the longest venomous snake, the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake holds the record for the heaviest venomous snake in the world. While a large one can weigh up to 10 lbs, the largest king cobra recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records weighed 15 lbs.

Inland Taipan ( Oxyuranus microlepidotus) in it's habitat, South Western Queensland Australia. Because of the area’s climate, the snake spends much of the day hiding in burrows, sinkholes or rock crevices.

The western Taipan, “the fierce snake”, has the highest concentration of toxic venom of all snakes.

©Ken Griffiths/

What other snakes are Venomous?

King Cobras use their fangs to bite into their prey, releasing their potent venom, but other snakes actually spray their venom at threats from a distance. There are several species of spitting cobra like the Equatorial spitting cobra, the Mozambique spitting cobra, and the Indochinese spitting cobra.

The saw-scaled viper is a venomous snake that should be feared by people. It is an aggressive snake and does not give a warning like the King Cobra, it may attack right away and bite several times in a row. These snakes are responsible for the most human deaths. Although only 10% of untreated victims die, so seeking immediate treatment is important.

The western taipan, “fierce snake”, has the highest concentration of toxic venom of all snakes and possesses a cocktail that can paralyze its victim and cause hemorrhaging. Their most common victim is mice and other rodents.

What Preys on the King Cobra?

Mongoose teeth

Mongooses regularly eat snakes and have developed immunity to their venom.

©Mark Sheridan-Johnson/

Mongooses are known for their bold attacks on highly venomous snakes – including King cobras! They depend on speed and agility – darting at the head of the snake and cracking its head open with one powerful bite. They are often bitten but it doesn’t phase them – they possess a deactivating glycoprotein that renders the venom harmless. They are relentless creatures that tire the snakes out making it easier for them to cast their deadly, skull-shattering bite.

How long do Snakes live?

Snakes face more predators in the wild than you may think! These stealthy hunters often become dinner for birds of prey, big cats, raccoons, and other carnivorous animals. They also have to contend with humans, who often kill them when they see them or run over them with their vehicles on the roads. So, considering their many enemies- snakes in the wild typically live 2 – 8 years. On the other hand, snakes in captivity live much longer lives – 15 – 30 years. Consider that before adopting a snake as a pet!

Have any Snakes Ever Escaped Zoos Recently?

Yes! There are many interesting news stories about snakes escaping from zoos and aquariums. In New York an escaped Egyptian Cobra became famous after an anonymous writer started a Twitter feed for the snake, posting comments about her alleged adventures while out on the run. Egyptian Cobras are venomous, so there was cause for alarm, but the snake was found six days later, not far from its cage and in a safe condition. It did result in a new Guinness World Record for Most followers on Twitter for a snake!

Summary of the King Cobra

Here’s a summary of King Cobras and comparisons to other snakes in size:

King Cobra10-13 ft15-20 lbs
Indian PythonUp to 20 ftUp to 150 lbs
Reticulated PythonUp to 20 ftUp to 500 lbs
Green Anaconda29+ ftUp to 550 lbs

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How deadly is a king cobra snake bite?

A king cobra’s bite contains enough venom to kill 11 people at maximum envenomation. While that might sound like a lot, there is actually a snake (the inland taipan) that has enough venom to kill up to 289 people!

What snakes are longer than a king cobra?

There are several snakes that are longer than king cobras on average. These include the Burmese python, African rock pythons, reticulated pythons, and anacondas (green and yellow).

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.