National Geographic: King Cobra


Deep within the jungles

of southern India,

there lives a legendary king

respected and feared by all.

He is swift and strong and deadly.

He is the largest

venomous snake in the world.

But until now his life

has been a mystery.

This is the story of a monarch

and his remarkable travels

through a fragile kingdom.

It is early on a cool morning

when the king of snakes

embarks on a journey.

His is an ancient forest

alive with creatures great and small.

Like the king cobra himself

many hover precariously

close to extinction.

But on this morning

the jungle pulses with the

sounds of insects and birds.

A great Indian hornbill delicately

feeds his family

hidden in their nest below.

Through this jungle book world

the king roams great distances.

Though his movements are quiet

those around always take notice

for crossing the king cobra's path

could cost them their lives.

Despite the uproar his presence causes

his world is mostly silent.

He only hears the deepest of rumblings

He has picked up the heavy footfalls

of a nearby elephant.

Even the mighty pachyderm steers

clear of this serpent,

for just one bite may bring death.

But the king would strike such

a beast only in self-defense,

for he feeds solely on snakes.

Still, the langurs are cautious.

Today, the king is not interested

even in snakes.

He is searching for something else,

something very important.

His eyesight is better

than most serpents'

but he sees without color and

only registers objects when they move.

He smells the air with his tongue.

So acute is this sense,

he can use it to find water.

And that's exactly

what he's looking for.

Today, water is critical for the king

is about to shed his skin.

He needs extra fluid to help

separate his old coat from his new.

It is an uncomfortable time

for the king cobra,

a new skin is developing

beneath his outer scales.

He must find a place to hide

until it is time to shed.

The king is unaccustomed

to his fragile condition.

It is an uncertain time.

At last he discovers a burrow.

And none of the forest's creatures

wants to share quarters with the king.

For the next ten days,

he will stay here.

Irritable and tense,

he's sensitive to any movement nearby.

Even the harmless wanderings

of a turtle unsettle the king.

For his eyes have become cloudy

from a secretion

which helps separate his skins.

Half blind and vulnerable,

he is always ready to strike.

At last his eyes begin to clear

a sign his new skin

has finished growing.

The king is back

but must still shed his old scales.

His spent skin is tight and itchy.

As he scrapes and rubs to

relieve the discomfort,

his outer scales begin to peel.

It is a remarkable transformation

even his fangs, teeth,

and the tips of his tongue

will be replaced again and again

during the course of his life.

When the skin over his eyes lifts away

he is given new windows

through which to view his world.

At 12 feet long and still growing,

the snake must endure shedding

four or five times a year.

His discarded skin

makes a perfect meal

for the smaller creatures of his realm.

In this kingdom, nothing is wasted.

After ten days without eating,

the king is hungry.

A tree offers a good vantage point

for spotting prey.

For his size,

the king cobra is an agile climber.

Now he waits and watches.

A movement in the tree reveals another

hungry creature... a young hornbill.

Its father has spotted something.

The king cobra watches the hunt unfold

A vine snake ribbons

across a nearby branch.

Much smaller than the cobra,

this nimble hunter is

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: King Cobra" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Jan. 2021. <>.

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