Dwarf King Cobra?!

Najakeeper

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@The Snark Help me out here, did you see or hear something like this?

I have visited a friend yesterday, who claims he has a gem. A king Cobra, about 2 years old, feeds regularly on snakes and rodents with a normal appetite and is about 5 ft long! Plus, it is a male! He is supposed to be a cross of two Chinese localities.

Here is a video of the guy's collection including the supposed "dwarf" King.

 

The Snark

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Thermal insularism. Kings would be highly susceptible as they are tropical and extremely temperature aware. Entirely altering their color biannually for example. Kept them in a cold climate, a few generations down the road would produce this dwarfism.
I've seen a true dwarf down in Sukothai. Supposedly 12 years old and about 9 feet long. The body general shape was along the lines of a well fed python. Entirely ovate, non triangular. He averaged 15 to 18 kg.

As I understand it, over half the known snakes in the world are subject to insular (island) dwarfism.
 

Najakeeper

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Thermal insularism. Kings would be highly susceptible as they are tropical and extremely temperature aware. Entirely altering their color biannually for example. Kept them in a cold climate, a few generations down the road would produce this dwarfism.
I've seen a true dwarf down in Sukothai. Supposedly 12 years old and about 9 feet long. The body general shape was along the lines of a well fed python. Entirely ovate, non triangular. He averaged 15 to 18 kg.

As I understand it, over half the known snakes in the world are subject to insular (island) dwarfism.
Oh, I do know about insular dwarfism of course. All those dwarf pythons floating around etc. I have never seen an example of a King Cobra though, even if I have heard claims. This was a first.

By the way, this snake was a product of two different localities from mainland China.
 

The Snark

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China is outside of their normal range. I'd suspect breeders there adapting them to the colder clime. Also, Hannah rarely hibernates. Can be found active year round. So if it is adapted to a colder clime and hibernation it would logically loose a part of the growth cycle each year.

I'd be willing to bet he keeps that kid nice and warm and it gets a couple dozen frogs a week it will be pushing 10 foot in a year or two.
 
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The Snark

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Not really, they do occur naturally in Southern China. They are visibly banded and darker in coloration.
Dark color, dusty black = no sun, cool climate. Any info on size of the China ones?

BTW, I have seen a lot Hannah only 6 to 8 foot. I have no idea how long they live or when they mature. The Old Man at the farm is around 25 to 30 yrs old. 18+ feet.

How old would you guess this one is?
 
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Najakeeper

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Dark color, dusty black = no sun, cool climate. Any info on size of the China ones?

BTW, I have seen a lot Hannah only 6 to 8 foot. I have no idea how long they live or when they mature. The Old Man at the farm is around 25 to 30 yrs old. 18+ feet.

How old would you guess this one is?
Have no idea mate but that's one big flower :).

So the father of this snake was about 350cm and WC in Yunnan area, the mother was from Hainan (I was mistaken as this is an Island) and I do not know the size of her.

One thing that is really cool is that he feeds regularly with no problems. He is not a starved snake, stunted due to not getting enough nutrition.
 

The Snark

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So you have a 11 1/2 foot mature male and possibly some degree of insular dwarfism in the female. Got some variables in that formula as Hannah tends to eat rather than mate when the partner is significantly smaller.

Once Hannah has established it's territory they are often complete pigs. If seen them chow down on frogs here, probably several hundred a day, until they laconically move like pythons.
 

The Snark

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Here's one I'd like explained. I often see Hannah 'grazing' on tadpoles in a pond. They raise up the front end a few inches above water level then fire away. I don't think they ever miss. Banging a tadpole every few seconds. So how do they calculate the trajectory taking into account the refraction?
 

schmiggle

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Here's one I'd like explained. I often see Hannah 'grazing' on tadpoles in a pond. They raise up the front end a few inches above water level then fire away. I don't think they ever miss. Banging a tadpole every few seconds. So how do they calculate the trajectory taking into account the refraction?
This is an interesting question--wouldn't they just learn to calculate the location of the tadpoles differently? They're very smart snakes. After some number of tries, they would presumably realize that their usual method isn't working, and if they saw refraction on something else, they could figure out that things look off in the water. Or, if one just got lucky or was smarter, the others could possibly have copied the behavior, realized that the usual method wasn't working but that some snake could do it, and eventually arrived at aiming off.
 

The Snark

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This is an interesting question--wouldn't they just learn to calculate the location of the tadpoles differently?
I don't know. Hannah regularly pulls stuff that seems to be outside the envelope for elapids. But generally speaking, I can't think of any other snake that is so calculating. Has such a high order of brain function.
 

schmiggle

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I don't know. Hannah regularly pulls stuff that seems to be outside the envelope for elapids. But generally speaking, I can't think of any other snake that is so calculating. Has such a high order of brain function.
Yeah, that was my issue. I just couldn't think of any other way. Archerfish do it, though, and they have the same limitation of being cold blooded, although they have the significant advantage that water changes temperature much more slowly than air, and the Amazon River is basically always the same nice, warm temperature. But being native to tropical climates presumably helps king cobras significantly in this regard.

Archerfish, by the way, have to learn to shoot accurately, although they are of course adapted to do so. I imagine that shooting jets of water accurately is far harder than simply striking accurately, so I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility for a king cobra to learn to do so.

By the way, I've seen a lot of suggestions that people underestimate the intelligence of other snakes relative to king cobras, and this might account for the perceived higher intelligence (though of course this tadpole thing undermines that). I'm just wondering what specifically makes you (and @Najakeeper) think that king cobras are so intelligent.
 

schmiggle

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Although, to be fair, najakeeper never said anything of the sort.
 

The Snark

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Hannah intelligence. I could easily end up rationalizing as infinitum. A lot of my info is pure gut instinct from being around a number of different species until I became familiar. Familiar as in I once had 26 horses in three corrals and in a 30 seconds eye sweep of the area pick out every horse by name and spot if any are acting unusual.
My main snake experience is rattlers, lots, and Hannah. Literally over a dozen hours each up close and personal watching them and developing that 6th sense familiarity.
Rattler: machine. Hannah, the antithesis of machine.

This guy, the old man, spends about 18 hours a day inspecting every square inch of his containment. Even standing on his tail to check the entire ceiling 9 feet in the air.

He completely ignores anything going on outside the containment, until the hatch in the ceiling is open. Then he shifts modes to...


...this. These two cuddle a lot. Always in physical contact with each other. They are much more interested in each other than inspecting the containment. But like the old man, open the door to the containment and you get this. Until the door closes it is watched, constantly, continuously.


Somewhat unscientifically, Hannah reminds me a lot of my Akita. An animal with an alien agenda. Humans are incidentals, not all that significant unless they violate the animals personally established boundaries.
 
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Najakeeper

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Yeah, the awareness of the animal is something else. The short amount of time I had with the baby I've kept showed me that I was constantly being watched by this snake. The response I got was not impulsive and felt calculated. Compare it to a death adder where you get bit when you are in range, period.
 
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