Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: What Are the Differences?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: July 9, 2023
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The golden lancehead is not a snake that most people know because it only lives on one small island. However, everyone knows about the deadly king cobra. What better way to learn about a relatively unknown snake than by comparing it to one of the most well-known reptiles in the world? This article will take a look at how the golden lancehead compares to the king cobra.

By the time we’re done exploring these snakes, you’ll know how they’re similar, how they’re different, and why you’d never see them in the same place. We’ll even tell you which of them has the edge in a fight. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at these incredible creatures!

Comparing a Golden Lancehead and a King Cobra

Golden lanceheads and king cobras differ in size, location, and colors.
Golden LanceheadKing Cobra
SizeWeight: 0.5-5lbs
Length: 2-3.5ft
Weight: 10-15lbs, but can weigh up to 20lbs
Length: 10ft-19ft
Attacking Habits and Venom Potency– Hemotoxic venom with a 3% to 7% mortality rate, with treatment
– The venom is deadliest to birds and arthropods rather than to mammals
– Will lift the front of its body several feet from the ground and then strike, allowing it to deliver venom in the vital areas
– Has 0.5in fangs
Long fangs deliver up to 1000mg of venom
– A single bite can kill 11 humans
LocationIlha da Queimada Grande
– Also known as snake island, the only place on Earth where this snake lives
– Lives primarily in the tropical rainforest area of the island
–  Several countries in Southeast Asia, including India, China, Thailand
– Lives in forests, agricultural areas, and swamps
Diet– Eats migratory birds, lizards and may eat other snakes– Eats snakes as a primary source of food
Colors– Yellow and brown, and can be very bright yellow– Black, yellow, green, and brown
– White or yellow chevron bands that fade with age

The Key Differences Between a Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra

The key differences between a golden lancehead and a king cobra are their size, location, and colors. The golden lancehead is a small snake that measures between 2ft and 3.5ft, only lives on Snake Island, and can be bright or dull yellow with light brown colorations. The king cobra can grow up to 19ft, lives throughout Southeast Asia, and integrates black, yellow, brown, or other colors in its scales.

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These two snakes are very different from one another. We will take a closer look at the animals and show you how they are somewhat similar and different.  

Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: Size

golden lancehead vs fer-de-lance

Golden lanceheads are about 2 to 3.5 feet long, much smaller than king cobras.

©Nayeryouakim / Creative Commons – License

The golden lancehead is smaller than the king cobra. A golden lancehead will weigh between 0.5lbs and 5lbs and measure between 2 and 3.5ft. Meanwhile, a king cobra can weigh between 10lbs and 15lbs, and it can grow up to 19ft long. The king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world! Aside from the size difference, it’s possible to tell these snakes apart by their shape.

The golden lancehead has a very distinct head shape, which is roughly the shape of a spear tip, and it comes to a point at the nose. King cobras are noteworthy because they can spread their ribs and give themselves a hood as a part of their threat display.  

Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: Venom Potency

The king cobra has far deadlier venom than the golden lancehead. A king cobra bite can inject as much as 1,000mg of venom per bite, and its venom is strong enough to kill 11 humans or even an elephant.

The golden lancehead is a very deadly snake. This snake’s venom is the strongest of any other member of the Bothrops family. Untreated, the venom can kill a person in 7% of all cases, leading to severe complications. Even though it’s not the deadliest venom globally, it is fast-acting. An afflicted person bitten by the snake doesn’t have long to get help.

Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: Location

King cobras can be found in many countries throughout the world. Although they are somewhat synonymous with India, king cobras can be found in China, Thailand, and the Philippines. Humans are rarely bitten by these snakes. They have a very recognizable threat display that allows people to back off if they run into one.

Golden lanceheads are only found on one island in the entire world. The island is called Ilha da Queimada Granda or Snake Island. These snakes have survived in this area since the waters around the island rose and severed the connection to the mainland over 20 miles away. The island is closed to the public, but sometimes pirates come to obtain and sell the snakes for money.

Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: Diet

King cobra looking angry

King cobras are experts at killing other snakes.


Golden lanceheads have very few options in terms of food. They tend to wait in trees to kill migratory birds that visit the island. Otherwise, they will eat lizards and even engage in cannibalism if they’re hungry.

King cobras obtained their name from killing other snakes, their primary food source. They are incredible hunters and have a great technique for killing other snakes, including venomous ones. They may also eat rodents, birds, and lizards. Thus, their diet is not all that different from the golden lancehead, but they are far better hunters.

Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: Colors

As their name suggests, golden lanceheads are bright yellow snakes. Sometimes, the yellow may be dull and subdued. These snakes also have light brown colorations on their body.

King cobras have a solid primary color on their bodies and a light underside. These colors can vary from black, brown, green, and yellow, along with a few others. Color is not a great way to identify the king cobra, though.

Golden Lancehead vs King Cobra: Who Would Win in a Fight?

A king cobra would win a fight against a golden lancehead. The king cobra is a snake-killer by nature, and the golden lancehead only cannibalizes the other snakes out of necessity. The experience level and technique of the king cobra, combined with its powerful venom, would be enough to kill the lancehead.

Also, when we factor size into this equation, we can come to two conclusions. First, the king cobra would have a major reach advantage in the fight, capable of biting the golden lancehead and pinning it to prevent counterattacks. Second, even if the snakes bit each other, the king cobra’s size ensures it would be the last snake standing.

Either way we look at this situation, the king cobra will win.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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