Dr Abraham Mathew, senior vet at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, carefully removing the slough of a king cobra. The male cobra, which arrived at the Singapore Zoo three months ago, was under quarantine at the time and had problems removing its shed so the vets stepped in to assist. Snakes shed their skin to allow for growth, as well as to remove parasites along with their old skin. The king cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake, and can grow to a length of about 5 metres. Despite its size and reputation for ferocity, it is not aggressive and only attacks when startled, provoked or protecting its eggs. It is one of the few snakes that preys almost exclusively on other snakes.

Dr Abraham Mathew, senior vet at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, carefully assists a male king cobra which had some trouble removing its shed. The snake had been under quarantine at the time, but has since been transferred to the Singapore Zoo’s Reptile Garden, where it is now on display. Visitors can also see Komodo dragons, Aldabra giant tortoises, rhino iguanas and false gharials at the Reptile Garden. King cobras are the only snakes known to build nests. Females guard the eggs until just before they hatch. Young king cobras are black with striking yellow lateral stripes.