In nature, the King cobra feeds mainly on other types of snakes, including those that are highly poisonous, for which it received its scientific name – Ophiophagus hannah (“snake eater”). It often attacks snakes that already hunt someone. Sometimes he kills and, after killing, swallows small lizards. Can dispense with food for about three months – the time during which the female permanently protects the laying of eggs.
The King cobra regulates the consumption of poison during an attack, closing the ducts of poison glands by means of muscle contractions. The amount of poison consumed depends on the size of the victim and is usually almost an order of magnitude higher than the lethal dose. Most often, trying to scare a person away, the snake makes “bachelor” bites without even injecting a poison. Apparently, this is due to the fact that the poison is needed primarily for hunting, and casual or unnecessary losses are undesirable.
The venom of the King cobra is mainly neurotoxic. The toxin of the venom blocks muscular contractions, which causes paralysis of the respiratory musculature, respiratory arrest and death. His strength and volume (up to 7 ml) is enough to cause the death of a man in 15 minutes after the first full bite. In such cases, the probability of death may exceed 75%.
But, taking into account all the features of the behavior of the King cobra, in general, only 10% of bites become deadly to humans. In India, cases of death from a bite of the King cobra are rare, despite the fact that every year from the bites of poisonous snakes in the country, up to 50 thousand people die.