8 Animals That Hunt Cobras

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: February 20, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The Mongoose is a mortal enemy of the cobra, using its agility, sharp teeth, and strong jaws to inflict fatal bites on cobras. The mongoose is also relatively immune to cobra venom.
  • King cobras are in a different group than other cobras because they are cannibalistic, eating other snakes and cobras as well as other king cobras.
  • Humans are threats to cobras, using weapons or traps to kill them when they venture into urban areas.

Cobras, whether they are members of the Naja genus or are lumped into the category, are very dangerous creatures. The king cobra can deliver enough venom in a single bite to kill 11 people or even an elephant. It’s hard to imagine anything hunting these deadly reptiles. Yet, the food chain can be more like guidelines than firm rules.

Some animals prefer to hunt these venomous snakes, and some of them can even depose the king cobra itself. Today, we’re going to explore 8 animals that hunt cobras, and we’ll show you how they manage to pull off this incredible feat!

The Dangers Faced by Animals That Hunt Cobras

Mozambique spitting cobra - Close Up On Venom
Cobras can bite their prey to envenomate them, and others can spit their venom

©Eugene Troskie/Shutterstock.com

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Cobras are inherently dangerous creatures that most animals would prefer to avoid. These snakes are so powerful that they often kill human beings! Most animals won’t try to attack a cobra because they know the snake has enough venom to kill them with ease.

Thus, animals that hunt cobras need to have some way to nullify the venom or a means to attack the snake before it can counter. Few animals can hunt and eat any snakes in that manner, and even fewer stand a chance at surviving bites by venomous snakes.

Still, some animals can successfully hunt and eat cobras, and we’re going to see what enables them to land a kill.

What Animals Eat Snakes?

Snakes are a common sight in many parts of the world, and they play an important role in the food chain as both predator and prey.

While snakes themselves are known for their voracious appetites, there are many animals that feed on them as well.

Let’s explore some of the common predators of snakes and the tactics they use to capture and consume their slithery prey:

  • Birds of prey: Many species of birds, such as hawks, eagles, and owls, are known to hunt and feed on snakes. These birds use their sharp talons and beaks to grab and immobilize the snake before swallowing it whole or tearing off bite-sized pieces.
  • Mammals: Several types of mammals also prey on snakes, including weasels, foxes, raccoons, and even some species of primates. These animals typically hunt for snakes on the ground, using their sharp teeth and claws to subdue the snake and avoid its potential venom.
  • Reptiles: Snakes are not immune to the predation of other reptiles, such as monitor lizards, alligators, and crocodiles. These reptiles use their size and strength to overpower the snake, and then consume it whole or in smaller pieces.
  • Amphibians: Some species of frogs, toads, and salamanders will also feed on snakes, either by swallowing them whole or by using their powerful tongues to snatch the snake and drag it into their mouths.
  • Other snakes: Finally, it’s worth noting that some species of snakes will prey on others of their own kind. This is known as cannibalism and is most commonly observed in species that are highly territorial or when food is scarce.

Furthermore, while snakes are often seen as fearsome predators in their own right, they are also an important food source for many other animals.

The 8 Animals That Hunt Cobras

black desert cobra
The larger the cobra’s body, the harder it is to kill

©Syed Usman Zaidi/Shutterstock.com

Managing to kill a cobra is no small feat. Some animals try and fail to make a meal of one of these venomous snakes only to fall victim to their venom. Still, some of them are such great hunters that they can regularly kill cobras. Take a look at eight animals that purposely hunt cobras and kill them for food.

1. Mongoose

What Eats Snakes
Mongooses are noted for their audacious attacks on highly venomous snakes, such as king cobras.

©steve bushman/Shutterstock.com

The Mongoose is a snake killer by nature. These small mammals have some immunity to cobra venom, so they are one of the most successful animals that hunt cobras. They need more than good defense to kill a cobra, though.

They use their agility, sharp teeth, and relatively strong jaws to inflict fatal bites on cobras. These animals will often run around a cobra, wait for a strike, dodge it, and then move in for a skull-crushing bite. The Mongoose is a creature that most cobras fear.

2. King Cobra

King Cobra - Close Up
King cobras are not “true” cobras and instead mostly hunt cobra species.

©Suresh Suryasree/Shutterstock.com

The king cobra’s scientific name is Ophiophagus hannah, and the first part of its name refers to its habit of eating other snakes. Among the victims of king cobras are other king cobras, Indian cobras, and various other venomous and non-venomous snakes in their habitat.

Given a choice between a tasty mammal and a snake, the king cobra is one of the few animals alive that will purposely go for a venomous snake!

3. Honey Badger

What Eats Snakes
Up to 25 percent of the honey badger’s omnivorous diet consists of venomous snakes.

©Erwin Niemand/Shutterstock.com

The honey badger is a highly aggressive mustelid that loves a challenge when it comes to obtaining food. This creature is absolutely fearless against venomous snakes. Much like the mongoose, the honey badger has some immunity to snake venom. Thus, they can pursue and kill these animals with the knowledge that the venom will only temporarily render them unconscious rather than kill them.

Their tenacity, agility, speed, and biting power allow them to overwhelm cobras and chew their heads off. As a result, honey badgers regularly eat snakes that would be far too dangerous for other animals to attempt.

4. Eagles

What Eats Snakes
Eagles attack snakes from above, catch the snake, and crush them with their talons.

©COULANGES/Shutterstock.com

Birds of prey are some of the deadliest creatures for cobras, and eagles are among the most powerful of them all. These massive birds will spot the cobra from far off, swoop down, and simultaneously smash into them at high speeds and grab them with their claws.

This powerful attack often results in a crushed skull or decapitation. Then, the eagle eats the snake, usually head-first.

Eagles are not immune to snake venom, so this is a dangerous method of attack for them.

5. Hawks

red-tail-hawk-with-garter-snake-in-its-beak
Hawks spot cobras from above and can quickly snatch them up.

©iStock.com/Holcy

Hawks are another bird of prey that can feast on a cobra. These birds use a similar method to the eagle to kill the snakes.

They will build up speed and grasp the animal in their talons before taking off. While their talons dig into the snake’s organs, the snake is helpless to counterattack. Sometimes, hawks will wait for snakes to strike at them before using their talons to attack the reptile’s head.

6. Secretary Bird

Animals that Hunt Cobras - Secretary Bird
Secretary birds stomp on snakes.

©Mike van Kal/Shutterstock.com

The secretary bird is a unique-looking animal that spends most of its time on earth instead of flying around. These tall birds use their feet to quickly and precisely stomp on their prey. The kicks are delivered with a force that is said to be upwards of five times their own body weight.

Secretary birds actually hunt in small groups or with partners from dawn to evening, resting in the hottest part of the day. When they attack a snake, their aim is to crush its skull. And secretary birds do not have immunity to cobras. They have to be careful not to get bitten, and ensure the snake is dead before eating it.

Their long legs allow them to keep their bodies safe from snakes while stomping, but this bird would not fare well against the king cobra. After all, this snake can raise its body several feet in the air and then attack, neutralizing the secretary bird’s threat.  

7. Crocodiles

Animals With the Toughest Skin-crocodile
An Australian crocodile at the water’s edge. Crocodiles have the strongest bite of any animal in the world.

©Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

No matter where you find them, crocodiles are some of the deadliest predators in the world. They are massive, weighing over 2,000 lbs in some cases. They can eat just about whatever they want in the world.

These massive reptiles can quickly bite and gobble up any of the smaller cobras. A crocodile could even attack a king cobra and come out on top. The crocodile’s thick skin, potential venom resistance, and devastating, immediately fatal attack allow it to eat these snakes with very little risk.

8. Humans

Animals with Opposable Thumbs
Humans will often hunt down and kill cobras to avoid having them in their area

©Halfpoint/Shutterstock.com

Humans are also known to hunt cobras. Sometimes, they eat the snakes as part of a delicacy. Other times, humans hunt cobras just to kill them off and remove them as a threat. Cobras are a serious threat to human life in some parts of the world such as the Indian subcontinent and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Unlike the other animals on this list, humans use tools and ingenuity to trap and kill cobras. Sometimes, the weapon of choice will be something as simple as a spear, and other times they use a firearm to dispatch the creature.

Not too many animals can successfully hunt cobras throughout the world. We’ve shown you eight animals that hunt cobras, and there are not too many others that go out of their way to attack them. These snakes are dangerous and potentially lethal in most cases. Still, they do have some weaknesses, and all the animals on this list exploit those qualities in one way or another.

Summary of 8 Animals That Hunt Cobras

Let’s take a look back at the animals that cobras should fear:

RankAnimal
1Mongoose
2King Cobra
3Honey Badger
4Eagle
5Hawk
6Secretary Bird
7Crocodile
8Humans

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 . When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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