King Cobra vs Alligator: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Indian Cobra
© Vova Shevchuk/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: March 4, 2023

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The world is filled with deadly reptiles. Among them is the king cobra, a venomous snake that preys on other members of its species and delivers a horrific venomous bite. Another animal feared throughout its native range is the alligator, a nearly perfect hunter with a reputation for taking down large, faster creatures. What would happen if a king cobra was released into the Florida Everglades by an exotic pet owner, and it crossed paths with a gator? Discover the winner of a king cobra vs. alligator battle as we analyze the fight from several perspectives!

Comparing a King Cobra and an Alligator

Alligators have incredible speed and larger weights.
King CobraAlligator
SizeWeight: 10lbs-15lbs
Length: 12ft-19ft
Weight: 400lbs to 800lbs (sometimes more)
Height: 1ft – 2ft off the ground Length: 8.2 feet to 15 feet long
Speed and Movement Type– 12 mph
– Slithering along the ground
– 30 mph over short distances on land
– Locomotion includes swimming and scampering on the ground
Attacking Method– Will lift the front of its body several feet from the ground and then strike, allowing it to deliver venom in the vital areas
– 0.5in fangs
Long fangs deliver up to 1000mg of venom – A single bite can kill 11 humans
2,980 PSI bite power
– Roughly 80 teeth
– Teeth roughly 2″ in length
Death roll can instantly remove limbs
– Repeated chomping can puncture organs while holding prey in place
Defenses– Large size
– Threat display
– Camouflage
– Thick skin
– Limited snake venom resistance
– Speed
– Hissing threat display
Predatory Behavior– Ambush predator– Ambush prey by keeping eyes and nostrils above water
– Clamp onto enemies and use a death roll

What Are Key Differences Between a King Cobra and an Alligator?

Largest Alligators

Alligators are deadly reptiles that can bite deep into their foes.

©Mia2you/Shutterstock.com

The biggest differences between a king cobra and an alligator are their size, morphology, and method of attack. The king cobra is a limbless reptile that uses venom to subdue its prey and grows up to 19ft long while weighing 15lbs. The alligator is a quadrupedal animal that grows 11ft long, weighs up to 800lbs, and uses massive biting power to tear prey apart.

These noticeable differences between the creatures give us some insight into how the animals would approach a fight. Still, we need more information to determine which has the advantage over the other.  

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a King Cobra and an Alligator?

close up of a king cobra

The king cobra is the longest venomous snake with powerful venom.

©iStock.com/takeo1775

The biggest factors in a fight between a king cobra and an alligator will be size, speed, and attack methods. After all, these elements are significant in just about every battle in the animal kingdom.

We must also look at other factors that would play a role in this battle, including the animals’ defenses against one another. By looking at five important characteristics, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of the animals, figure out who has the most advantages, and then determine the winner.  

King Cobra vs Alligator: Size

An alligator is larger than a king cobra. Most king cobras can grow about 10ft long, but relatively few of them reach the maximum length of 19ft. Even when they reach their maximum length, they weigh less than 20lbs. That’s large for a venomous snake but not that big compared to a gator.

The alligator is a very large animal, growing about 8ft long and 11ft at maximum length. It will often weigh between 400lbs and 800lbs. However, the largest alligator weighed 1,380lbs and was 13ft long. At this size, few animals are going to stand a chance.

The alligator has a size advantage over the king cobra.

King Cobra vs Alligator: Speed and Movement

Alligators are much faster than king cobras. Alligators can run 30 mph over very short distances, and they can run between 9 mph and 11 mph regularly. They can rapidly overpower their foes with this speed.

King cobras, like other snakes, are rather slow because of their slithering method of locomotion. The average cobra can move about 12 mph, and that’s not enough to escape this fight.

The alligator has the advantage in speed.

King Cobra vs Alligator: Attacking Method

The king cobra is a one-trick pony when it comes to fighting. They will find a foe, rear back to pull their body off the ground, gain height, and then strike. They inject about 1,000mg of incredibly deadly venom with every bite. That powerful venom has enough power to bring down 11 humans or even an elephant within an hour.

Alligators are much more straightforward. They have 80 massive 2″ teeth that they drive into their prey with a bite of 2,980 PSI. They will chomp an enemy and tear it to shreds or engage in a death roll where they bite and then roll to amputate body parts. Once this animal bites something, getting away is incredibly difficult.

Both animals are deadly, so this section is a tie.

King Cobra vs Alligator: Physical Defenses

The king cobra has few defenses. It can slither away, hide in small spaces, and use its threat display to scare enemies away.

However, alligators have powerful defenses. Their skin helps camouflage them in their aquatic environments. Gators have thick skin that can turn away some bites and blows. They also have high speed to escape, a threat display of their own, and limited snake venom resistance!

Alligators have far better defenses than king cobras.

King Cobra vs Alligator: Predatory Behavior

Alligators are ambush predators that prefer to strike from the edge of the water. They will wait for something to get a drink of water and then spring forth, bite down, drag it into the water, and chomp away.

King cobras are ambush predators too. They will bite something, envenomate it, and sometimes flee until the animal is dead. The snake returns to get its meal afterward if it’s a large creature, or they will simply wait until smaller prey succumbs from the venom.

Both creatures have similar predatory behavior, so this is also a tie.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a King Cobra and an Alligator?

Deadliest Animals in America

An alligator has more than enough power to rapidly kill a snake.

©iStock.com/unclegene

An alligator would win a fight against a king cobra. Alligators have so many advantages over the king cobra that it’s hard to imagine the alligator losing the fight.

Both animals are ambush predators, so the alligator could wait for the king cobra to come to get a drink of water before attacking and killing it. Likewise, the king cobra could wait in tall grass and bite the alligator, but it’s not fast enough to escape the fight and let the gator die off. The gator would turn on its afterburners and bite the snake.

A single bite from the alligator, especially to the head, would simultaneously cause fatal damage to a king cobra while also ensuring that it doesn’t move anymore. Alligators’ teeth prevent their prey from escaping while they issue further bites or begin a death roll.

While a gator would not be able to use a death roll on a king cobra, it would continue to chomp on the snake until it was dead. Even if the king cobra bit the alligator, there’s no guarantee that it would get good enough penetration through the skin to deliver enough venom to kill the vast reptile.

With all these factors in mind, the alligator would probably win this fight outright, but it could possibly get bitten first and still win before dying.

Could an Alligator Beat an Elephant in a Fight?

Elephant

The tusks of an African elephant can inflict serious damage on creatures that dare challenge it.

©Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock.com

Snakes may prove to be relatively easy for alligators to fend off using their powerful jaws and tough skin, but when the challenger is up to double its size these reptiles are not as lucky. When an African elephant and an alligator are put to the test in battle, the alligator is all but defenseless from its position flat on the ground. Elephants are not predators by nature, but when provoked they are not afraid to utilize their gargantuan size to trample creatures the size of an alligator with ease. If this does not work, elephants will use their impressively sharp tusks to impale attacking animals within a 6-foot range. Alligators’ infamous jaws would not prove to be much help to them in a fight with an elephant, as their skin is almost impenetrably thick. The best bet for an alligator who comes face to face with an angry elephant is to retreat into the water and attempt an escape.


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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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