A king cobra's hood makes the snake appear larger than it is.
A king cobra's hood makes the snake appear larger than it is.
Photograph by Parthkumar Bhatt, Dreamstime

King Cobra

A king cobra the length of a stretch limo slides through a field. Looking for food, it raises its head and flicks its tongue. Suddenly, a rat scampers past. The snake takes off after the rodent. As it nears its prey, the cobra strikes: It sinks its venom-filled fangs into the rat to knock it out, then swallows the snack in one gulp.

Common Name:
King cobras
Scientific Name:
Ophiophagus hannah
Group Name:
Average Life Span In The Wild:
20 years
13 feet
Up to 20 pounds


King cobras are venomous snakes that live in South and Southeast Asia. The reptile makes its home in forests and swamps. It can grow up to 18 feet long. And the animal's toxic bite is powerful enough to kill an elephant.

Cobras eat small mammals, lizards, and birds. They can also end up on the dinner menu—the snake is a favorite meal of the mongoose, a kind of mammal.


When facing predators, king cobras try to act like tough guys. They often expand ribs and muscles on both sides of their necks to create what’s called a hood. The hood makes the snake appear extra-big.

While cobras can become aggressive when hungry or threatened, they know how to make their families feel at home. These are the only snakes that build nests for their eggs. How ssssweet!