Many people cannot tell between a Common Cobra(Naja naja) from a King Cobra(Ophiophagus hannah). It may sound absurd to a few but from my experience the majority belong to the latter category. I have watched television anchors and news readers confidently make this mistake, newspapers whose editors care less to be corrected in spite of my efforts to explain and sadly the rest would rather believe these poorly researched mediums than a lamenting herpetologist! Hence this article to list the basic differences between the two snakes but does not delve into detailed taxonomic or behavioral differences.
Common Cobra : Usually grows up to 5.5 feet
King Cobra : In India they grow up to 15 feet
Common Cobra : Broad
King Cobra : Narrow
COLOUR AND MARKING
Common Cobra : Varies between light to dark shades of brown. Has a spectacle mark behind its hood.
King Cobra : Shades of black, brown and olive green. Has light yellow to cream coloured chevron shaped markings from head to tail
Common Cobra : Cuneate scale is present
King Cobra : Cuneate scale is absent
Common Cobra : Occipital scales absent
King Cobra : Occipital scales present
Common Cobra : Frogs, lizards, birds, snakes and small mammals like rats and hare. They are opportunistic and sometimes eat their own kind.
King Cobra : Eat only other snakes. e.g. Rat snakes(Ptyas mucosa), Cobras(Naja naja), Malabar Pit Vipers(Trimeresurus malabaricus). They occasionally feed on Monitor lizards. They are cannibalistic.
Common Cobra : Lays eggs in holes and crevices
King Cobra : Builds a nest to lay eggs
Summary and few more differences…
Feel free to share your thoughts and more differences which you think might help people in understanding these snakes better.