Cobra Information Page 10

Cobra Intelligence
 
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I could find little research on the intelligence of cobras, so the following
are my personal observations.  I have owned two cobras over a period of 8 years.
The second cobra I had, named Kachsa Khan, was a King Cobra (O.Hannah.)
Indeed...it was all fun 'n games till he got to about 6', then he became relatively
unmanageable.  I couldn't take him out of the "Junglesphere" after that because if
he got interested in, or distracted by something, I couldn't stop him from going
to investigate it.  He was *quite* inquisitive.  I could tell when he got sick or
tired because his alertness level would diminish...it was that obvious.  I would
have to say that O.H. is probably one of the most intelligent herps with the possible
exception of King Snakes.  To watch either of them approach, attack and ultimately
devour another snake, no matter what it's size or defenses give one a great respect
for the smarts of these beasts.

  I had the unfortunate "luck" of stopping in a back alley snake shop in Bangkok, Thailand
one evening just in time to witness a 5-6 yr. old O.H. defending it's "crown" against a variety
of "foes".  It was like watching a car accident...incredible, awesome, yet perverse.  The cobra,
about 5', was able to dispatch the following adversaries:  a black mamba using strategy;
some kind of boa with brute force; a ratel with *much* strategy and gnashing of teeth  (he
almost lost this one, but the ratel had been pitted against another snake earlier that day, I
was told, so it was tired; and lastly the big battle, against another King Cobra that was about
3.5' and 2 yrs. old.
This last was an interesting one - they didn't want to fight, and only the prodding and poking
of the "handlers" caused them to actually go at it.  Even then, neither would multiple strike,
as if they knew that it was their "job" to put on a show, but with no real aggressiveness or
heart in it.  In the end, however, the "champion" did get tired of the abuse from the handlers,
and realized that he wasn't going to be left alone until the other cobra was removed, so with
a very slow, methodical movement, he slipped his head around behind the others, and put
both fangs through the neck right behind the other's head.  The entire "show" seemed oddly
staged in that the champion cobra always seemed to know what was expected of it, and how
to accomplish it.  This would certainly indicate a level of intelligence far above what most 
would attribute to herps in general, even most snakes.  This particular snake demonstrated
the ability to learn fairly advanced techniques as well as interactive skills.  The fight with
the ratel was the most amazing, because cobras usually lose when attacked by a mongoose or
ratel.  Cobras are not fast enough, nor can they access vital body parts due to the course hair
on these animals.  This cobra seemed to know this well, and planned his strikes so that he
would hit the fleshy parts of the ratel, mostly going for the underside and it's neck and nose.

  
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