King Cobra and Monitor Lizard



Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The king cobra is not just a snake eater but will also catch and eat monitor lizards. This photo was taken in Hariharapur in Chikmagalur District, Karnataka.

The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is not just a snake eater as its generic name might suggest (Ophio = snake; phagus = eater). While its main diet does consist of snakes, it will also catch and eat monitor lizards. The king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world, and males are capable of growing to a length of nearly 6 metres. In India, king cobras are found in the Andaman Islands, in the semi-evergreen and evergreen forests of the Western Ghats,  in the mangrove swamps of Bhitar Kanika in Odisha, in the forests of the Himalayan foothills, and in the rain forests of north-east India. In some parts of Karnataka, notably, in the Agumbe region, king cobras are often seen in agricultural areas, and even venture close to human habitation, where their presence is still tolerated by most local people.

This image was taken in Hariharapura in Chikmagalur District in Karnataka. It shows a king cobra catching a monitor lizard within the town limits. Says the photographer,  “these days king cobras are commonly seen near human settlements in the area. They are probably attracted by prey such as rat snakes and monitor lizards. Capturing and releasing king cobras is a problem though, as local snake catchers are not skilled enough to handle a king cobra and usually injure the snake in the process”. See this post on CI for a discussion on snake translocations.


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