Ecdysis in the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)

P. Gowri Shankar, Nikhil Whitaker


Between April 2001 and February 2003, ecdysis of snakes in captive population of Ophiophagus hannah was studied. A strong relationship was observed between snake total length and slough length, resulting in a regression equation that may be used to predict total length from slough length. The number of sloughs per snake increased with total feed weight, and average monthly feed weight. Inter-slough periods differed between sexes, with females shedding at wider intervals at an average of 63.27 days, and males at 55.77 days. In a year, males shed at an average of 6.0 times, while females averaged 5.2 times. Cumulative difference in inter-sloughing periods between the fifth and sixth year of age were significant, averaging 59.54 days at the former age, and 61.65 at the later. No relationship was observed between either average minimum temperature or maximum temperature and the number of snakes sloughing a month. Rainfall did not influence the number of snakes that shed in a given month. Average inter-slough period was weakly related to average minimum temperatures, and unrelated to average maximum temperatures.


Ophiophagus hannah; ecdysis; age differences; influence of temperature

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