To many, snakes seem dangerous and mysterious. Many humans find them frightening or downright terrifying, but to some members of the animal world, they’re pretty delicious. After all, nearly every animal in the animal kingdom has its predators.
Many animals, including hawks, badgers, and crocodiles, eat snakes. However, the mongoose is the snake’s most fierce natural predator – speed and agility make them ideal snake hunters. There are also cannibalistic snakes, the most famous of which is the king cobra.
In this article, I’ll explore the world of animals that engage in ophiophagy, and you just might be surprised at who they are. Let’s start!
The mongoose is swift and agile, which comes in handy when hunting snakes. While its speed is a definite advantage, it also produces glycoprotein, which neutralizes the snake venom and makes snake bites harmless.
Here is a video of a cobra and mongoose showdown found on YouTube:
2. Honey Badger
Honey badgers are strong and savage fighters. They’re perfect snake-killing machines with their tough, bullet-proof-vest-like skin and high immunity to venom.
These large, predatory birds often feast on snakes and rarely fail to catch them. Their size, strength, and supreme eyesight give them an advantage when tracking a snake that can’t even detect them high up in the sky.
The red-tailed hawk and Harris hawks often seek out copperheads and rattlesnakes and make them into a meal with ease, as you can see in this YouTube video:
Although the crocodiles’ diet mainly consists of mammals, frogs, lizards, and fish, they are opportunistic eaters, meaning a nice, large snake will be a welcome snack.
Here is a YouTube video that shows a crocodile can easily kill a black mamba, a highly venomous snake that can grow up to 14 ft (4.3 m):
5. King Cobra
A snake with a bite so venomous that it can kill an elephant, the king cobra’s Latin name Ophiophagus hannah means “snake-eating nymph.” It’s an appropriate name considering the king cobra’s favorite snacks are other snakes.
They prefer rat snakes, pythons up to 10 ft (3 m), and even cobras.
As another opportunistic eater on this list, bobcats will eat whatever they stumble on. While they have no natural defenses against snakes, their speed and agility are the real weapons. They often eat rattlesnakes and win these fights by slapping their faces downward to avoid getting bit, as you can see in this YouTube video:
The secretarybird is an African bird of prey with the Latin name Sagittarius serpentarius, which means “catcher of serpents.” It kills snakes by delivering fast, strong, and precise hits (using 195 Newtons of force) with its foot in an attempt to break their backs before eating them.