INDIA
2001


"The Cobra's Revenge"

Someshwara, Karnataka State

The village between Seethanadi and Agumbe is Someshwara, a village we visited several times during our stay.

Reptiles found around Someshwara village were: Northern spotted gecko (Hemidactylus maculatus maculatus), Brahminy blindsnake (Ramphotyphlops braminus - not photographed), a Long-nosed vinesnake (Ahaetulla nasuta) in the bushes near the temple, Dharman ratsnake (Ptyas mucosa), and another Humpnose pitviper (Hypnale hypnale).

 

Reptiles from Someshwara
Northern spotted gecko,
Hemidactylus maculatus maculatus
Long-nosed vinesnake,
Ahaetulla nasuta
Dharman ratsnake,
Ptyas mucosa
Humpnose pitviper,
Hypnale hypnale


We received a call from Someshwara to say there was a large King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) on the outskirts of the village. Curls on a track was a 3.6 m brown male, but it was under-weight, emaciated and clearly sick. There is a story in India that king cobras come to villages to die and this snake certainly looked as if it was dying. Another story states that if 100 people see a king cobra, it will die, and that would also tie in with a large snake on the outskirts of a village.

Although dying this king cobra was still prepared to defend itself vigorously

 

Three days later we received another call from Someshwara to say another king cobra has been sighted, near the temple. We reached the village but the cobra has disappeared. We were resting in a local café when there was a shout, the cobra had been seen again crossing a road into an area of bushes completely surrounded by paths. Bruce, Anees and I rushed to the spot and dived into the bushes, getting severely stung by huge nettles in the process.

Someshwara Mark diving into the ferocious nettles
The king cobra grabs the dharman and swallows it whole
The king cobra is captured, still with the dharman ratsnake extending out of its mouth
which meant it could not bite us

I sighted a Dharman ratsnake which fled back into the bushes and I wondered if the locals had made an error of identification. Back into the bushes I sighted the king cobra, a dark specimen, at the moment when it grabbed the dharman and killed it with a bite before it started the process of swallowing its meal*. I waited until the king was swallowing the dharman and was then able to grab it without getting bitten. In all honesty when I look back at this capture, although it was incredible to be present at the moment the king cobra captued, killed and ate the ratsnake, I would have liked to have left her to finish her meal in peace.

* The king cobra's generic name is Ophiophagus, the etymology of which is: ophio = snake, phagus = swallower, kings are inveterate snake predators.

We took the king cobra, a 3.0m female, back to Seethanadi and left it to finish its meal. We finally had a healthy cobra for our hearing experiments.

 

Mark, Anees and Bruce with the 3.0m female
King cobra, Ophiophagus hannah