Romulus Whitaker, American-born naturalised Indian herpetologist and a wildlife conservationist, is the founder of Chennai Snake Park and Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in Karnataka, for the study of King Cobras and their habitat.
The largest male King Cobra, almost 14 feet long is named Elvis by Romulus who is a huge fan of Elvis. Priscilla, mate of Elvis is almost 10 feet long.
I was watching the documentary, “Cobra and I” on BBC and learned a lot about King Cobra. Some interesting facts were:
The cobra sheds its skin from nose tip to tail tip including tongue tip and eye caps. It was fascinating to watch the eye caps being removed with a tweezer. Romulus talks to the snake and there is an Elvis song playing in the background. He calls these eye caps as, “nature’s very own contacts” The eye caps are opaque and sometimes the snake is unable to shed it completely which renders it almost blind.
The female builds a huge nest when she lays the eggs. The nest is very large to protect it from temperature variation. The incubation period is around 2 months during which time she never leaves the nest and doesn’t eat. Her one single goal being to guard the nest.
Once the eggs are about to hatch, Romulus separates the mother from her eggs as she is likely to eat the hatchlings. She is going to be very, very hungry and will not be able to distinguish that they are her own babies.
The human population of the Agumbe Forest revere the King Cobra believing it to be the messenger of god. The only time I guess where religion has done some good. They never kill the Cobra although reports of people dying of snake bites are a regular feature here.
For more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennai_Snake_Park_Trust.