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The Jungle Book character
T2JB159 - Jungle Book capital K.JPG
Kaa (left), as illustrated in the 1895 edition of The Two Jungle Books
First appearance"Kaa's Hunting"
Last appearance"The Spring Running"
Created byRudyard Kipling
SpeciesIndian python

Kaa is a fictional character from The Jungle Book stories written by Rudyard Kipling. Kaa is one of Mowgli's trusted mentors and friends.

Kipling's Mowgli Stories[edit]

First introduced in the story "Kaa's Hunting" in The Jungle Book, Kaa is a huge and powerful snake, more than 100 years old and still in his prime. In "Kaa's Hunting", Bagheera and Baloo enlist Kaa's help to rescue Mowgli when the man-cub is kidnapped by Bandar-log (monkeys) and taken to an abandoned human city called the Cold Lairs. Kaa breaks down the wall of the building in which Mowgli is imprisoned and uses his serpentine hypnosis to draw the monkeys toward his waiting jaws. Bagheera and Baloo are also hypnotized, but Mowgli is immune because he is human and breaks the spell on his friends.

In The Second Jungle Book, Kaa appears in the first half of the story "The King's Ankus". After Kaa and Mowgli spend some time relaxing, bathing and wrestling, Kaa persuades Mowgli to visit a treasure chamber guarded by an old cobra beneath the same Cold Lairs. The cobra tries to kill Mowgli but it's venom has dried up. Mowgli takes a jeweled item away as a souvenir, not realizing the trouble it will cause them, and Kaa departs.

In "Red Dog", Mowgli asks Kaa for help when his wolf pack is threatened by rampaging dholes (the red dogs of the title). Kaa goes into a trance so that he can search his century-long memory for a stratagem to defeat the dogs:

With Kaa's help Mowgli tricks the dholes into attacking prematurely. Kaa takes no part in the resulting battle (obliquely citing his loyalty to the boy rather than to the wolves, who often caused Mowgli grief) but Mowgli and the wolves finally kill all the dholes, though not without grievous losses.

In "The Spring Running", as the teenage Mowgli reluctantly prepares to leave the jungle for the last time, Kaa tells Mowgli that "it is hard to cast the skin," but Mowgli knows he must cast the skin of his old life in order to grow a new one. Kaa, Baloo and Bagheera sing for Mowgli in "The Outsong", a poem and the ending of "The Spring Running".

Disney films[edit]

Disney animated films[edit]

In the 1967 Disney film, Kaa is markedly different from the Kipling character. A predator rather than a mentor, he twice manages to trap Mowgli in his coils in an attempt to eat him. He does this through the use of hypnotic eyes as opposed to the original version, in which he uses a serpentine dance to control his prey. Both of his attempts to eat Mowgli end in comical failure because he is interrupted right before he can swallow him. Kaa is depicted as cowardly, attempting to curry favor with Shere Khan whenever he is around.

Voice actor Sterling Holloway decided to give Kaa a lisp, a condition that composers the Sherman Brothers brought into the character's song in The Jungle Book, "Trust in Me".[1]

This particular version of Kaa drew inspiration from previous Disney characters that followed a similar trope, such as Tick-Tock the Crocodile from Peter Pan and the Wolf from The Sword in the Stone. Both are fixated on a specific character (namely Captain Hook and Wart, respectively) as food and comically attempt to eat them throughout the film, without success.

In The Jungle Book 2, Kaa - now voiced by Jim Cummings - reappears in a smaller role. He is first seen attempting to eat the man-cub as Baloo and Mowgli reprise "The Bare Necessities", but is thwarted each time. He eventually gives up, swearing he will "never again associate with man-cubs". Kaa then comes across Shanti, who is lost in the jungle in search for Mowgli. He successfully hypnotizes her and attempts to eat her, but is stopped by Ranjan. He is last seen being interrogated by Shere Khan about Mowgli's whereabouts, lying to the tiger that the boy is heading for the swamp.

1994 live-action film[edit]

A far more menacing incarnation of the character appeared in the 1994 live-action adaptation. He was brought to life using an actual anaconda, but the bulk of his appearances were made using a mixture of CGI and animatronics. In the film, Kaa seems to serve King Louie, killing any intruders to the city when Louie summons him. Kaa attacks Mowgli inside the monkey city by tackling him into the moat and attempting to drown him, but Mowgli wounds him with a bejewelled dagger, forcing the python to flee in a pool of his own blood.

By the time Mowgli returns to the city with Captain William Boone (the main villain of the film) and Kitty, Kaa has fully healed from their prior confrontation. After defeating Boone, Mowgli flees with Kitty when he hears King Louie summoning the python. Boone starts gathering as much treasure as he can, but notices that the monkeys have gone silent; Kaa suddenly appears, then scares the injured Boone into the moat, where the heavy load of treasure he is carrying weighs him straight to the bottom. Desperately trying to struggle free, Boone sees the skeletal remains of Kaa's past victims just seconds before the villain finally meets his death by the python.

2016 live-action film[edit]

Kaa appeared in Walt Disney Pictures' live-action adaptation of the animated film, directed by Jon Favreau. This version of Kaa is female and is voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Like the previous Disney incarnations, she is a villain and desires to eat Mowgli. Luring him in by promising to keep him safe, she hypnotizes him and reveals that the boy came to live in the jungle when Shere Khan killed his father as they were travelling between villages and Bagheera found him. She also reveals to him the power of the "Red Flower" (fire) and its dangers in her vision. During her storytelling, she attempts to devour him, but Baloo spots and rescues Mowgli, denying Kaa of her meal. She is not seen again for the rest of the film, though during the end credits, she is heard singing "Trust in Me".

In an interview, Johansson elaborated on Kaa, saying that she uses both her voice and hypnotic gaze to entrance Mowgli so that he cannot resist her embrace. She also says Kaa uses her story-telling to seduce and entrap Mowgli and describes Kaa as a "window into Mowgli's past". She notes that the way Kaa moves is "very alluring", describing it as "almost coquettish".[2] Johansson also sings the song "Trust in Me" in the film; she described her thoughts on the song: "It's a strange melody. We wanted it to be a lullaby, but it has a very mysterious sound."[3]

Other appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Sherman, Robert B. The Jungle Book audio commentary. The Jungle Book - Platinum Edition
  2. ^ Annika Harris (March 21, 2016). "First Look: Lupita Nyong'o, Idris Elba & Others In 'The Jungle Book'". UPTOWN Magazine.
  3. ^ "Kaa the Wily Python". The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 3, 2016.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]