An amazing encounter in the forest in Koh Phangan

18 Aug 2013 10:54 #1252 by angiud
Looking for butterflies,as some of you know, suddenly I met a snake, after ID as a young King Cobra, about 2 mt size. Quickly erected in a defense position, very photogenic. A bit worried, I got a few shots:

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King Cobra

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18 Aug 2013 10:56 - 18 Aug 2013 13:23 #1253 by angiud
Ah, when I saw the tail of the Cobra, I was taking pictures of this splendid butterfly, a first for me both in Thailand and in the Koh Phangan list:

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The Banded Royal - หางคู่แถบหนา

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18 Aug 2013 12:27 #1254 by Bagheera
WOW!!! a totally awesome snake and a beautiful photo aswell!!
Thanks for sharing this, on my only ever king cobra sighting I was on a dirt bike and so didn't have a camera with me :angry:

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18 Aug 2013 13:22 #1255 by Paul T
What an incredible sighting Antonio! The snakes not bad either ;+)

It amazes me how few snakes I come across when I am in the forest, not that I know where to look.

Fantastic shot and lighting. On BOTH the photos!

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18 Aug 2013 17:14 #1256 by angiud
It's my first Cobra and one of a few 3-4 more snakes in 4 years of photography in the forest.

Not so easy to spot.

How many times we just step very close to a Krait, a Viper or a Cobra without seeing them?

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18 Aug 2013 20:48 #1257 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic An amazing encounter in the forest in Koh Phangan
Great shot, you've got me very jealous. Shooting a cobra with raised hood from a low angle is still a dream for me. I think it could be easier if I had an assistent willing to keep the cobra busy while I make the pictures. I've never managed to get a cobra raise it's head. Every time they take off. Maybe I should get closer to scare them a bit... Pull their tail, maybe...
Only once got a decent record picture, but without 'hood', just moving around.
Seems like it did give you quite quite a bit of time to both enjoy the sighting and get this great shot.

Last month I met an American researcher, Matt Goode, who has done some amazing research on King Cobra's in India, and with his help they're currently radio-tracking a few King's in Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, East of Khao Yai.
He told me some very interesting facts. Territory ranges of up to 40 - 50 km2!
And they seem to return to the same termite mounts or other hiding spots in their enormous territories. Quite amazing.
In India they radio-tracked a male, really following it, staying with the snake for the whole day, and seeing what it eats. That research project took place in the rain season, and in that season the King (which is as you know, a snake-eater) ate many pit vipers, not sure if that's a seasonal thing. It might be, as I personally see lots of pit vipers in the wet season.
The cobra is able to track scent trails of snakes. In one case during their research project the cobra got bitten after it attacked the viper. It dropped the viper and remained in a kind of trance for 30 minutes. The pit viper escaped into a tree, to a branch at about 6 meters high, but after a while the pit viper died from the cobra's venom and dropped on the forest floor not too far from the cobra. However, when the cobra 'woke up' it first followed the trace of the snake all the way up in the tree, then to find out that the trail had a dead end ;), moved back down and then found the prey and ate it.
Amazing creatures.

I have to say I'm a bit surprised you don't see more snakes. Though, I suppose you don't really look for them. Time to brag about my own experiences again ;), a few days ago had an amazing day in Khao Yai and broke my personal day-record (in this country at least). Got to see 6 snakes in 1 day!
1 Oriental Vine Snake (orange morph), 3 Vogel's Pit Vipers, and 2 Green Cat Snakes.
The pit vipers are definitely the most commonly seen snakes in Khao Yai, I guess followed by the Vine Snakes, and maybe Bronzebacks. A cobra is rare to see, and so are the Kraits.
So far I've seen 28 different species of snakes in Khao Yai. And I'm sure there's more.

For photography the green pit vipers are often great at posing in characteristic 's'-pose. They are very calm during the day and you can get really close, but obviously you should take care of your own safety.
It's not rare to see them stick around to the same spot for many days in a row. In the beginning of the year I found one that stayed on it's rather high spot for over 2 months! I guess the dry season makes them inactive. In the wet season they move around more, and can be found on branches just inches above the ground, head pointing down waiting for frogs.

Wish you some more amazing snake encounters, especially when returning home with such photographic results!

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01 Sep 2013 12:18 #1355 by Ray Pearce
Replied by Ray Pearce on topic An amazing encounter in the forest in Koh Phangan
Last year I encountered a huge king cobra at the edge of the dirt road to Ban Krang camp, Kaeng Krachan. My wife and I saw two monitor lizards on the road a hundred or more metres ahead and I slowed the car and started to get some shots of the monitor in the road. We couldn't understand where the second one had gone. The first monitor just kept looking at the side of the road and didn't move. Suddenly I saw a movement and a tail moving through the grass and looked up to see a huge cobra launch itself into the forest. I clearly saw the hood and the markings on it. It was I think at least four metres long maybe longer, absolutely huge. Obviously the second 'monitor' was in fact a cobra and we missed some great photographic opportunities of filming them together. Do cobras eat monitors?

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01 Sep 2013 22:36 #1358 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic An amazing encounter in the forest in Koh Phangan
Over 4 metres, that's quite something! I'm still waiting for an encounter with such a large specimen. I estimate the largest one I've seen was about 2.5m, which is still a decent sized snake, ;).
BTW Did get to see my first juvenile King Cobra not too long ago, which was cool; black with thin bright yellow bands. Not interested in posing for pictures, but I'm still vey happy with the sighting...
Hopefully one day to come accross a cobra's nest with a large female on top of it, protecting it. Maybe I'm asking too much, haha.

King Cobras are known to eat monitor lizards, but from what I've understood it's not common. It's snakes they like most. And I don't know what size the monitor was that you got to see, but I guess that even though it must have been a huge King, it might still be wary to catch a large monitor. Monitor lizards will fight back, and I've seen monitors eating snakes.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had met Matt Goode. Not too long ago Nat Geo Wild showed a docu about the King Cobra and the research done by him. He had implanted a transmitter in a female cobra. While tracking her they got to see her mating. And while/ shortly after mating another male entered the scene, started a battle/ dance with the first male, not hurting eachother but testing who was the strongest by pushing the other down to the ground. Eventually the male that did mate with the female lost the battle and took off.
The second male moved to the female, but after smelling for a while, he suddenly decided to kill/ eat her instead of mating. Maybe he knew he was too late, as she had already mated with the other male, and therefore decided to get rid of her and potential offspring that was not his. Nobody really knows.
However, she turned out to be too large (I believe she was similar in size to the male, or maybe slightly smaller), so after swallowing half of her body he found out it would not fit and spitted his prey out and moved off leaving the female for the flies. I guess recording this event was for the researchers so exciting that they probably did not mind loosing the individual that they had actually been tracking for a while.
So eating a large monitor lizard might be too much for a cobra. I guess it's more likely that a large Reticulated Python would eat a monitor lizard.
Thanks for sharing your experience!

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