National Reptile of India

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Written By Santana

Unveiling India's Treasures from the eyes of an insightful author

POPULAR NAMEKing Cobra (Nag)
SIZE13 Feet
WEIGHTUp to 20 Pounds (9 Kgs)

King Cobra is the official National Reptile of India. Also, known as ‘Nag’. It is the world’s longest and most deadliest venomous snake. Adult cobras can reach a length of 18 feet and are rarely hostile.

They will not attack unless provoked. During an attack, cobras can lift one-third of their bodies off the ground and hiss. This wary creature is rarely seen despite its habitat of lush rain forests and dense rainforests.

The neurotoxins these venomous snakes release can kill up to twenty persons or an elephant in a single bite.

12 - The Mystical King Cobra and Coffee Forests

Hindu Scripture Importance

Nag Panchami is an auspicious festival in India and is celebrated on the 5th day of Shukla Paksha in the Sawan month. The serpent, which is seen placed around the neck of Lord Shiva, is worshipped by Hindus in India on this day. Nag Devta has a special place in Hindu mythology and is worshiped.

Many mythological scriptures, namely Mahabharata, Narada Purana, Skanda Purana,  and Ramayana have many stories depicting snakes. As per Garuda Purana, worshipping the snakes during Nag Panchami will bring good fate and prosperity to its devotees.

The Hindu scriptures mention that  Kansa had sent a snake named Kaliya to kill Krishna. Lord Krishna defeated the evil snake and sat on its head, playing the flute.


A king cobra’s average length is 3–4 meters (9.8–13 feet), typically weighing around 6 kg or 13 lb. The London Zoo was home to the world’s longest king cobra, which reached approximately 18.5 to 18.8 feet (5.6 to 5.7 meters).

In 1951, Singapore’s Royal Island Club captured the world’s heaviest wild king cobra, weighing 12 kilograms or 26 pounds and measuring 4.8 meters or 16 feet long.

The New York Zoological Park received another captive specimen in 1972, weighing 12.7 kilograms or 28 pounds and measuring 4.4 meters or 14 feet in length.

Many factors, including their environment, determine these snakes’ length and mass. Despite their immense size, king cobras maintain an alert and quick demeanor.

Typically, the skin of this snake is olive-green, brown, or black. The crossbars that run the length of its body are pale yellow and extremely faint.

This snake’s pale yellow or cream-colored belly aids in its smooth scaling. Often confused with a banded krait, its juveniles are black but glossy with small yellow bands, except for a fully flexible hood.

Mature cobras have a bulky heads, similar to the rest of the snakes, but they can widen their jaws to swallow smaller snakes or other animals.

The front half of its mouth has two tiny fixed fangs that inject venom into the prey it captures, much like a hypodermic needle.

Male cobras are larger and thicker than female cobras. Wild king cobras have an average lifespan of twenty years.

The king cobra’s body comprises 15 rows of dorsal scales in the middle. Males have between 235 and 250 ventral scales, whereas females have 239 and 265.

Each row, however, has subcaudal scales that are either paired or single, with the specific numbers 83 to 96 for male cobras and 77 to 98 for female cobras.

Spotting the Indian King Cobra

Unlike the other deadly snakes in the genus Naja, the king cobra belongs to the Elapidae family and is unrelated to the other dangerous snakes in the same family, the cobra.

Cannibal King Cobras can be found in India’s Agumbe Rainforest, located in the Shimoga district of Karnataka and is home to a population of Cannibal King Cobras.

If you’re lucky, visiting one of India’s National Parks, such as those listed below, may give you the best chance of viewing the King Cobra, the country’s national reptile.

  • Agumbe Rainforest, Karnataka
  • Periyar National Park, Kerala
  • Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
  • Manas National Park, Assam
  • Sunderbans National Park, West Bengal
  • Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Srivilliputhur Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

Distribution and Habitat

The king cobra is found primarily in South Asian and Southeast Asian countries. Still, it has also been spotted in the southern sections of East Asia, most notably China’s southern provinces.

Cobras are frequently encountered in densely forested environments with lakes and streams. Rapid deforestation has had a detrimental effect on the cobra population, which has decreased considerably over time.

CITES classifies it as an Appendix II Animal (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

King-Cobra National Reptile of India

Behavior and Ecology

The king cobra’s forked tongue receives chemical information like other snakes’ tongues. I work by capturing fragrance particles and delivering them to Jacobson’s organ, a sensory receptor on the roof of the mouth.

These characteristics are very similar to the capabilities of the human sense of smell. When the fragrance of a meal is detected, this snake sweeps its tongue in search of prey, for which the tongue’s twin forks act as stereos.

The king cobra’s additional characteristics include superior intelligence, earth-born vibration tracking sensitivity, and exceptional eyesight that can identify even moving prey at approximately 100m or 330 feet.

After injecting its venom, the king cobra begins swallowing its prey. However, the toxins have a tremendous effect, and the victims are readily digested.

It is comparable to other snake species in that the king cobra’s jawbones and malleable ligaments are strongly attached, allowing the lower jaw bone to move independently under all conditions.

To consume whole prey quickly and readily, the king cobra will sometimes ingest prey larger than its head, which will be digested once the prey has been swallowed whole.


As the Greek-derived generic name of the king cobra implies, Ophiophagus is a snake-eater whose primary meal consists of rest snakes ranging in size from rat snakes to miniature pythons and other dangerous snakes.

Even some snakes belonging to the genuine cobra or genus Naja are prey. Additionally, it is capable of consuming additional dangerous krait family snakes.

If conditions deteriorate and cobras do not find sufficient prey, they hunt other species, such as birds, lizards, and numerous rodents.

Even birds and rodents become prey if there is a food shortage. It uses its powerful body to capture giant rodents, albeit not typically.

Due to its poor metabolic rate, it may remain dormant for months after consuming large meals. R t-snakes are the most popular prey item for king cobras, and when seeking them, cobras may come dangerously close to human settlements on numerous occasions.


If aroused, it may become excessively violent. When cobras are threatened, they alter their appearance by raising their body’s anterior third and extending their neck to reveal fangs. They also continue hissing loudly.

Any rapid movement or proximity to items can easily irritate cobras. The king cobra continues to advance even as it raises its body for attacks, which becomes a misjudging scene for those who assume they are safe even though they are not.

Its single strike may result in multiple bites, and adult cobras maintain control of prey once bit. T is snake attempts to flee immediately, even though it is far too deadly.

It attacks only when it is unable to move. B cause cobras typically live in densely forested places that are sparsely populated; their encounters with humans are rare.

When confronted by natural predators, particularly mongooses, the king cobra attempts to flee, as it is aware of the resistance level of its adversaries. Mangoose hisses in addition to forming a different cobra hood in these conditions to maintain strikes with the fabricated closed mouth in defense.

These procedures prove effective since such preys are more dangerous than the rest and are of a size that a comparatively smaller mammal can quickly kill.

The best defense against a cobra attack is to exercise caution, removing a shirt or taking a hat and throwing it on the ground to create confusion.

The Growling Hiss

It is odd but noteworthy because king cobra hisses generate misconceptions due to their lower pitch than other snakes. That is why its hisses are frequently referred to as growls rather than hisses of perplexity.

While the hisses of the rest of the snakes range from 3,000 to 13,000 Hz, and in some cases up to 7,500 Hz, the growls of the king cobra are radically different and rarely exceed 2,500 Hz. Its primary frequency is merely 600 Hz, which is unquestionably the lowest and sounds like the human voice; therefore, not more than that.

According to comparative anatomical morphometric analysis, unique findings such as the discovery of tracheal diverticula, whose function is to maintain low-frequency resonating chambers in this dangerous snake and its preferred prey mangrove rat snake, are similar. They consist of only growls to maintain the misguidance that has come to light.


The king cobra is exceptional among snakes because its female groups continually engage in parenting activities. Female cobras construct a nest to properly store eggs and rub leaves or trash into the knoll to ensure proper deposit, ensuring the nest is maintained until the eggs hatch and the young are groomed.

Female cobras act as incubators, laying between twenty and forty eggs in preparation for mounding. Their primary goal remains to monitor eggs by staying with them, which she accomplishes by taking harsh measures to secure the mound.

Additionally, she issues notifications in response to perceived threats, most notably the arrival of gigantic monsters. This method is repeated for 60 to 90 days, or until the eggs reach a steady temperature of 28 °C or 82 °F inside the mound.

When the female cobra realizes her eggs are ready to hatch, she will physically flee the area and seek prey, as she has misgivings about eating her children out of desperation.

Baby king cobras range in length from 45–55 cm (18–22in) and possess the same fatal venom as adult cobras. They are vibrantly colored and maintain an alert and active demeanor.

Cultural Significance

The King Cobra possesses a fantastic memory as widely believed in India, Nepal, and numerous other South Asian countries. According to legends, the well-adorned snake can recall the picture of a cobra killer. They utilize the image’s memory to seek down the killer in vengeance. That sounds like a brain behind the snake and is horrifying.

Threats and Conservations

In Southeast Asia, the king cobra is endangered mainly by habitat destruction caused by deforestation and agricultural expansion. Poaching for its flesh and skin and use in traditional Chinese medicine poses a threat.

The king cobra is an endangered species in Appendix II of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). In China and Vietnam, it is protected. It is listed under Schedule II of India’s 1972 Wildlife Protection Act. Killing a king cobra carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

It’s time to protect our National Symbol.

The King Cobra is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There is no definite count of King Cobras in India; however, they have become scarce in most areas over the last few decades.

India’s population is estimated to have declined by 30% during the last 75 years, primarily due to habitat degradation. A recent study of the snake in northeast India discovered that, despite the species’ wide biological range, most sightings happened within or next to protected regions with huge, unbroken, undisturbed forests. In India, the snake’s primary concern continues to be habitat destruction and fragmentation.

To rescue this fantastic creature, education and public awareness are two of the most effective tools we have at our disposal. Beyond the fact that King Cobra contributes to ecological balance by predating other snakes, the snake’s common image as a dangerous and aggressive adversary must be challenged.

King Cobras are shy reptiles that will go to any length to avoid contact with humans. In contact with humans, they are only forced out of their natural habitats by manmade causes like logging and agricultural development, which cause them to become disoriented. Using educational and public awareness efforts can assist in alleviating the species’ plight.

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