King Cobra tasting the air with its tongue

King cobra

King cobras are the longest of all the venomous snakes. Lengths of up to five metres are not unheard of, although, a mere three metres is more realistic. Preying on other reptiles - particularly other snakes - king cobras have a rapid, deadly strike. The venom isn't as strong as some snakes, but enough is produced in a single bite to kill a fully grown elephant. When threatened, a hypnotic display sees the king cobra raise itself up, growl and extend its hood. This majestic snake is one of the most dangerous and feared snakes to inhabit the forests of Asia.

Scientific name: Ophiophagus hannah

Rank: Species

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The King cobra can be found in a number of locations including: Asia, China, Indian subcontinent. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the King cobra distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is a species of venomous snake in the family Elapidae. The species is endemic to Asia, and is found predominantly in forests from India through Southeast Asia. This species is the world's longest venomous snake, with a maximum length (including tail) of 18.5 to 18.8 ft (5.6 to 5.7 m). Despite the word "cobra" in its common name, this snake is not a member of the Naja genus (the "true cobras"), which contains most cobra species, but the sole member of its own genus. It preys chiefly on other snakes and occasionally on some other vertebrates, such as lizards and rodents. The king cobra is a dangerous snake that has a fearsome reputation in its range, although it typically avoids confrontation with humans when possible.

The king cobra is a prominent symbol in the mythology and folk traditions of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

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