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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 its 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 adaptations[edit]

1967 animated film[edit]

Kaa appears in the 1967 animated adaptation by Walt Disney Productions. This version of Kaa is recast as an antagonist, as Walt Disney felt audiences would not sympathize with a snake character. The voice of Kaa is provided by Sterling Holloway.

Kaa notices Mowgli in a tree one night and, rather than a serpentine dance, uses his hypnotic eyes to lull Mowgli to sleep. Kaa nearly eats Mowgli before Bagheera awakens nearby, notices him, and slaps him, awakening Mowgli. Kaa retaliates by hypnotizing Bagheera, though Mowgli pushes Kaa out of the tree, making him unravel violently. Kaa encounters Mowgli again later in the film and quickly hypnotizes him again, though he has to hide him when Shere Khan asks him where the boy is. Shere Khan makes Kaa swear to tell him when he finds Mowgli and leaves, though Mowgli wakes up and pushes Kaa out of the tree again.

Kaa is based on earlier characters from Disney films who comically and unsuccessfully attempt to eat the protagonist, including Tick-Tock the crocodile from Peter Pan and the wolf from The Sword in the Stone. Holloway provided Kaa with a hissing lisp while voicing him, which the Sherman Brothers incorporated into Kaa's song "Trust in Me".[1]

Kaa returns in The Jungle Book 2, now voiced by Jim Cummings. Kaa again tries and fails to eat Mowgli while he and Baloo are singing "The Bare Necessities". He angrily swears that he will "never again associate with mancubs" until he discovers Mowgli's human friend Shanti and tries to eat her. Mowgli's adoptive brother Ranjan thwarts him, causing him to fall down a cliff. Shere Khan finds Kaa again and asks him where Mowgli is, but Kaa lies that Mowgli is heading toward the swamp.

Kaa appears in the prequel series Jungle Cubs, where he is voiced by Jim Cummings. Kaa is seen as a snakeling who is still trying to master his hypnotic abilities, though he is cowardly. He is shown as a protagonist as opposed to the 1967 film, being friendly with the other cubs.

1994 live-action film[edit]

Kaa appears in the 1994 live-action adaptation as a large anaconda, though most of his appearances are created using both animatronics and computer-generated imagery.

Kaa is depicted as a far more menacing predator who lives in Monkey City with King Louie, guarding the orangutan's treasure from intruders. Kaa attacks Mowgli and tries to drown him in a moat, but Mowgli wounds him with a bejeweled dagger, forcing him to flee in a cloud of blood. Louie summons Kaa again after Mowgli defeats Captain Boone and Boone begins stealing treasure; Kaa scares Boone into the moat, where the stolen treasure weighs him down to the bottom. Struggling to free himself, Boone sees the skeletal remains of Kaa's past victims moments before he meets his death by the python.

2016 live-action film[edit]

Kaa appears in the 2016 remake of the 1967 film. This version of Kaa is female and voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

As in the 1967 film, Kaa is a villain desiring to hypnotize and eat Mowgli. While Mowgli is hypnotized, Kaa reveals that he came to live in the jungle after Shere Khan killed his father and Bagheera found him, then describes to him the power of the dangerous "red flower", fire. Kaa tries to devour Mowgli, but Baloo discovers her and rescues Mowgli.

Johansson described Kaa in an interview as a "window into Mowgli's past" who uses storytelling to seduce and entrap Mowgli, noting that the way Kaa moves is "very alluring" and "almost coquettish".[2] Johansson also recorded a new version of "Trust in Me" for the film, saying the song was "a strange melody. We wanted it to be a lullaby, but it has a very mysterious sound."[3]

Other appearances[edit]

See also[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. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  3. ^ "Kaa the Wily Python". The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 3, 2016.

External links[edit]