A King Should Always Stand Tall (Especially if that King is a Cobra)

Striking footage—no pun intended—has come to us from Asia featuring an appropriately majestic King Cobra rearing the front half of its formidable body six feet into the air so that it might enjoy a little survey of the surrounding terrain.

It all makes for quite a sight, one that no hapless and unprepared living creature (save, perhaps, a hardy mongoose) would be thrilled to encounter in the wild. Of course, a potential conundrum stemming from such a scenario rests in the fact that “the wild” and “civilization” are really the same thing, particularly in these beleaguered days, with different trimmings and accessories. We may pretend otherwise in our arrogance, but don’t be stunned to read in the near future that a King Cobra lifted its head six feet from the floor and proceeded to slither across the length of a New York City subway car in search of a seat.

That would put paid to the supposedly dreaded scourge of “manspreading”.

Let’s not kid ourselves: the wilds of the New York City subway system have already more than their fair share of predatory forms of life, so a King Cobra’s appearance might prove shocking to no one. But these fabulous reptiles can still chatter the teeth of individuals in India and its neighboring nations. Without recourse to Google and relying only upon my broad and steadfastly curated knowledge of creatures that creep and crawl about the planet, I believe the King Cobra can attain lengths of around 18ft. in some cases and, while their venom is not quite as toxic as the venoms of other serpentine relations like the Australian taipan, the African black mamba, and others, their cocktail of toxins can easily kill a man and bring down an elephant, if the bite is uninhibited in its delivery.

King Cobras also avail themselves of the opportunity to spit their venom directly into the eyes of those they deem unworthy of their royal presence or simply “in the way” as they go about daily monarchical duties. Their ability to raise their heads straight up to look a grown man in the eye makes this spitting option especially effective, I would wager.

At all events, creatures like this are beyond fascinating, and the sheer size of this hooded wonder of creation inspires awe aside from any consideration of poisonous proclivities. Best of all, I am privy to a genuine King Cobra anecdotal encounter. My late Grandfather served in parts of the Pacific Theater in WWII and one of the many tales he brought back with him from those harrowing days of conflict concerned a late night tete a tete with a King Cobra while stationed briefly in Burma. On his way to use the camp’s outdoor latrine amid the moonlit pallor of the surrounding jungle, old Grandad was waylaid at the potty by the unmistakable silhouette (and accompanying, guttural hiss of warning) of a King Cobra standing at least a foot taller than himself only a stone’s throw away in the steamy gloom. The snake was doubtless out for a bit of a late night snack, probably of the rodent-variety likely to found sampling the smells and other delicacies on the midnight buffet around a sequestered army-camp’s shithouse.

It was a meeting Grampy never forgot. Needless to say, anything can become an instant latrine in such circumstances, including one’s pants. Grandad used to chuckle a bit at the memory, but at the edge of the chuckle there was always a faint but unmistakable trace of residual anxiety … a tiny electric bolt of primordial fear crackling for a split second around the sonic circumference of the laughter.

Take a good look at the King assessing his domain in the linked article’s video and tell me your own heart wouldn’t skip a beat or two on the occasion of an impromptu “audience” with the real Ruler of the Jungle.


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