• Wildcreatures

What snake eats snakes?

Well, only a few actually do this, and perhaps the most famous for doing this is the majestic and rare King Cobra; Ophiophagus hannah.

“Ophiophagus” is derived from Greek, meaning“snake-eating” - so that clears that up. But hannah is derived from the name of tree-dwelling nymphs in Greek mythology - but these are not arboreal/tree dwelling snakes. They can swim and climb, but normally hunt on the ground. hmmmm, strange.

Also, although it is named the king cobra, in reality it doesn't belong to the genus of the true cobras i.e the Najas. It is the single and sole member of its own genus; the monotypic genus of Ophiophagus. Confused?yep, me too. OK, but don't ask why its the KING. oh, you want to know? Well, typically snakes are self governing, so that makes no sense. Some people say its because it is the world's largest venomous snake. The longest known individual measured 5.85 m. Yikes! Others say, its because it eats other cobras (but remember, its not really a cobra!) Others point out its unique and distinguishing scale pattern on its head/neck, unlike other cobras, which looks like a V or a King's Crown. Word for today: Occipital. A key to identification, clearly visible on the head, is the presence of a pair of large scales known as occipitals, located at the back of the top of the head. These are behind the usual "nine-plate" arrangement typical of colubrids and elapids, and are unique to the king cobra. Others say it is because it is the most intelligent and has the sharpest eye sight of all snakes. Others say, its because it looks so regal, and can move with its upper body lifted up (unlike other snakes)

I say, I do not really know, and as this snake got its scientific name from the Danish naturalist Theodore Edward Cantor in 1836, and no-one can trace the common name, we will perhaps never know. So pick one of the above and argue it to death! These snakes also have a hissy noise very low down, more like a growl, which can also be heard by elephants who avoid them.

…but here is a juvenile that looks completely different to the adult. This little guy is actually bright yellow, with up to 65 chevron-shaped black bands down his body.

These bands also go across the head and snout. This bright colouring of the juvenile fades and the adult is tan, almost to black.

This wonderful snake is highly intelligent, has very sharp eyesight unlike many other snakes, and will only eat snakes! It is one of the very, very few snakes that will guard its nest, which is the only time it can be considered aggressive.

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