The Largest King Cobra in the World

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: May 3, 2022
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Think You Know Snakes?

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 a venomous snake, 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!

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!

reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

Looking at the species of cobras you won’t find “King Cobras” on the list. They are relatives of the Naja snakes but 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 of many cobras as being 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?

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

Vova Shevchuk/Shutterstock.com

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.

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 150lbs. 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 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 be 29ft and is also a huge snake at 500lbs! These snakes live in countries like India, Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Guinness Book of Records has the longest snake ever recorded being 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
Anacondas are the heaviest snakes in the world.

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While King Cobras are the longest venomous snake, they are not very heavy. They are a skinnier snake that only weighs about 15-20lbs. 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’s 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 capybara, 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 400lbs (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!

What other snakes are Venomous?

King Cobras use their fangs to bite into their prey, releasing their potent venom, but other snakes actually spit their venom at their victims 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.

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 safe condition. It did result in a new Guinness World Record for Most followers on Twitter for a snake!

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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).

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