It has been quite a snaky time for our project recently. Our team encountered number of Monocled Cobras (Naja kaouthia) during their radiotracking activity at Sakaerat Silvicultural Research Station. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to capture them all, but 3 will join our radiotracking project. This is very exciting for us as it will bring our study sample to 5 adult males sharing home ranges in this area!
Encouraged by the number of sightings we started to put more effort in to actively surveying the forestry plantations. It wasn’t long before we encountered another cobra… This time a juvenile King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). The animal was found crossing a dirt road on the margin between the Dry Evergreen Forest and eucalyptus plantations. The regal beast did not appreciate our presence at all, displaying the full range of its defensive behaviors.
Of all the snakes we encounter in our study site, we consider the juvenile King Cobra to be one of the most difficult snakes to handle. These snakes are fast, strong and afraid of humans. Young individuals, of this serpent eating species spend a lot of their time in the trees, their long, slender and strong body allowing them to rise up and climb easily. This is a dangerous mix and as handlers we must always be extra careful while working with these animals. Additionally juvenile King Cobras don’t have the same confidence and sense of self assurance that a 3 meter plus adult has. Meaning they are often more willing to bite and envenomate (remember we are the ones who disturb the snake in the first place).
Nevertheless we managed to capture it and bring it back for our friends from#SakaeratConservationandSnakeEducationTeam. They are radiotracking King Cobras around Sakaerat SERS. They processed the snake for biometric data and found it to be a 2.26 m long male in good body condition. After which, we happily released the snake back where we caught it to resume its life in the forests of Sakaerat.