King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), Between the Most Feared and Most Wanted

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Among herpetologists, the king cobra has been recognized to be the most intelligent snake species, no doubt about it. Building the nest, and guarding it, awareness, and amazing eyes sights have become a few reasons to give value to this species being remarkable.

“King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) has become the most wanted species of snake by herpers who visit Bukit Lawang and Gunung Leuser National Park, but it’s also the most feared by locals” Bobi Handoko.

king cobra landak river bukit lawang

King cobra is not only found in Bukit Lawang, it is a species of snake that can be found throughout the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, Bali, Lombok, and Sulawesi.

SUMECO has secured more than eight king cobra nests in Bukit Lawang and other places around. They were mostly reported by the locals, who requested to remove the nests because the females laid the eggs and built the nests too close to private properties, one of the largest females was measured with length 4,3 meters and the male was 4,7 meters.

female king cobra nest bukit lawang

King cobra is the only snake species that build their own nest and guard it until a few days before they’re hatched. This nest-building behavior remains unusual among snakes. King cobra’s mating season in Sumatra begins from January to April and the most unique for this species, they remain together during the mating season. The females will drag the males to wherever she goes. The possibility of encontouring and conflicts are believed to be higher at the beginning of the mating season because males will roam in larger areas to find mates.

sumeco king cobra nest bukit lawang

Ophiophagus hannah, reaching up to 5 meters in length, is known to be the world’s largest and longest venomous snake species. Three years of learning in the wild (a1), raising more questions on the behavioral diversity of different individuals (a2), and observing the distinctive behavior of monitored individuals in captivity (a3) have led me to witness the uniqueness of the individual behavior of two different wild females during the nesting inside and outside Gunung Leuser National Park (a4). Structural and behavioral adaptations of the king cobra during the nest guard are expected to provide more information on how this species survives and evolves (A5).

According to an Indonesian herpetologist who is working for the National Research and Innovation Agency of Indonesia, king cobra now might be grouped into two types, they’re those who laid many and few eggs.

King cobras are well-indicated to be brained snakes, filled with a pack of sensory organs that result in a fascinating performance with their sensing and sight. My study of the king cobra’s intelligence has shown its functioning brain can be seen in how they approach, attack, and ultimately devour other snakes listed on their menu, no matter if the others are more venomous than themselves. This definitely says something about their brain capabilities. Their coordinated attacks on prey revealed that this species possessed incredible brain capabilities. Using the receptors on the roof of their mouths to analyze what they smell also helps the brain decide what is around them, whether it is something they may eat, a threat, or retreat from.

“Uncanny Intelligence in the king cobra possesses a rare intelligence that scientists are only beginning to understand. Some snake experts have experienced a type of communication with the king cobra that is quite unlike any other snake species they’ve encountered. It has an awareness and alertness far beyond most other snakes; for instance, the male is very conscious of its territory and will chase other males away. In captivity, the king cobra is able to distinguish its caregiver from strangers and is said to be a faster learner than other snakes. The fact that it builds a nest — the only snake to do this — is another indication of its intelligence.” Animal Planet.

male king cobra bukit lawang leuser

male king cobra bukit lawang

Gunung Leuser National Park, which shares its fertile soil with Bukit Lawang, has provided a favored ground for the king cobra to build its nest; most of them build the nests with dried bamboo leaves. A few villages close to the park are still keeping some fields for their bamboo cultivation, while females find it attractive for nesting, most conflicts are triggered by this.

king cobra nest bukit lawang

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