Close-up of King Cobra head. Its scales are brown, tan, and black. It's neck is partially flattened into a hood shape.

king cobra

Venomous snake-eaters


Map of Asian countries
Endangered Status



12 to 15 feet
average adult length
The average bed is 6.25 feet long.
Illustration of bed and snake

The king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world. Very large king cobras can be 18 feet longthat’s about a foot longer than a minivan!

other snakes
Illustration of meat

King cobras even eat other venomous snakes. Sometimes they eat lizards, too.

Illustration of trees

King cobras also live in bamboo thickets, swamps, and croplandsoften near streams.


Close-up of King Cobra snake on the ground with its tongue out


Sniffing out prey

A snake has nostrils, and it also has another way to smell its prey—a small organ in the roof of its mouth. As a cobra’s forked tongue flicks in and out, it picks up odor particles and passes them over this organ. The name of this organ is the vomeronasal organ.

King cobra snake leaning out from a tree


King cobras lose their homes when people cut trees, plant crops, and build cities. Some people catch these snakes and sell them as pets. Some kill king cobras for their skin and meat, or for making folk remedies.

King Cobra snake with its neck flattened into a hood shape.

Life in the hood

A king cobra would rather scare you away than bite you. If it feels threatened, it lifts its head and body high. Ribs in its neck extend to form a hood. It makes a loud hiss that sounds more like a growl. The message is, "I am big and bad! I will bite you if you come any closer!"

A mongoose sitting on some foliage. It is a small mammal with brown and grey fur.

Preying on predators

What animal would even try to attack a king cobra? The snake's most famous predators are mongooses. These furry little animals are naturally resistant or immune to snake venom. They are quick enough to dart in and bite the back of the cobra's neck before the snake can defend itself.

Close-up of a King Cobra snake sitting on brown foliage

Queen cobras?

To prepare for laying eggs, a mother king cobra scoops together a pile of leaves. She lays her eggs there and covers them with more leaves. Most other snake species slither away after laying eggs, but not a king cobra mother! She coils around her nest and makes sure her eggs stay warm until they hatch.