King Cobra vs. Taipan: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 10, 2023
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The world is home to many venomous snakes. Among the most venomous snakes in the entire world are king cobras and taipans. Although the fierce snake, the inland taipan, has incredibly powerful venom, that doesn’t mean it is the most dangerous snake and capable of fighting other snakes. However, the king cobra’s scientific name, Ophiophagus hannah, tells us that it’s a known snake-eater. So, which animal wins a king cobra vs. taipan fight? We’re going to get to the bottom of that question by comparing the two and seeing which reptile is better suited to kill the other.  

Comparing a King Cobra and a Taipan

king cobra vs. taipan
A battle of king cobra vs. taipan would pit two of the more venomous snakes in the world against one another.
King CobraTaipan
SizeWeight: 10-15 pounds
Length: 10-19 feet
– Weight: 3-4.4 pounds
– Length: 4-6 feet, up to 9 feet maximum
Speed– 5 mph
– Slithering along the ground
– 5 mph (estimated)
– Fast strikes
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 1000 mg of venom
– A single bite can kill 11 humans
– Will curl into an S-shape to bite
44 mg average venom load with 110 mg maximum
– Capable of killing between 100 and 280 humans with a single bite
– Believed to have the deadliest land snake venom that is both hemotoxic and neurotoxic while increasing absorption
Defenses– Large size
– Threat display that includes hood spread, hissing, and drawing itself up several feet
– Scale color helps camouflage the creature
– Stays still despite encroaching animals to avoid notice
Predatory Behavior– Ambush predator
– Specializes in killing other snakes, often with a well-aimed bite to the head
– Skittish ambush predator that

What Are Key Differences Between a King Cobra and a Taipan?

Taipans are highly venomous snakes

Taipans are highly venomous snakes that prefer to hide rather than fight.

©Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock.com

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The greatest differences between a king cobra and a taipan include their venom, size, and location. The king cobra lives in Southeast Asia, weighs up to 15 pounds, grows 19 feet, and has a neurotoxic venom, and the taipan lives in Australia, grows up to 4.4 pounds and 9 feet, and has a combination of neurotoxic and hemotoxic venom.

The differences between these snakes provide us with a starting area to evaluate them for their fighting abilities. However, we need to look at other facets of these animals to figure out what advantages they have over the other. Only then can we say for certain which animal is going to win the fight.

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

The inland taipan has deadly venom

The inland taipan is a very deadly snake due to its venom, but venom alone won’t win this fight.

©reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

The most important factors in a battle between a king cobra and a taipan are their size, speed, and the way they attack their prey. However, these are not the only key factors to weigh when we’re trying to determine which animal is most likely to survive this encounter. We will also consider the animals’ defenses and their unique venoms.

King Cobra vs. Taipan: Size

The king cobra is larger than a taipan. King cobras are the largest venomous snakes, and the biggest king cobra measured about 19 feet and weighed 15 pounds. The average taipan only measures between 4 feet and 6 feet, and they weigh between3 pounds and 4 pounds.

The king cobra has a significant size advantage over the taipan.

King Cobra vs. Taipan: Speed and Movement

The king cobras and taipan both move at the same speed. The average king cobra moves at 5 mph and the taipan moves at 5 mph as well. Both snakes are also known for their fast strikes when attacking other animals.

Neither snake has an advantage in terms of speed.

King Cobra vs. Taipan: Attack Method

The king cobra has a superior attack method to the taipan. King cobras typically rear back and lift several feet of their bodies off the ground. That allows them better positioning to attack other animals, including snakes. When the other animal gets close enough, the king cobra lunges forward, biting into the back of the other snake’s head.

The bite isn’t the end of their attack, though. Their long fangs allow them to inject upwards of 1,000mg of venom directly into their prey. This neurotoxic venom is powerful enough to kill 11 humans or even an elephant in a single bite.

The taipan assumes a more typical S-shaped defense stance before it attacks. It lashes out at blinding speeds, injecting its prey with the deadliest venom of any land snake. The venom is a combination of neurotoxins, hemotoxins, and chemicals that increase their uptake in the body.

The increased attacking range and special snake-killing skills of the king cobra give the cobra the advantage.

King Cobra vs. Taipan: Physical Defenses

The king cobra’s size and threat display are its primary defenses. Most creatures that come across this massive, hissing, hooded snake will back away because they know it’s a losing battle. Aside from that, the king cobra’s ability to hide in small crevices also works in the snake’s favor.

The taipan is small, so it relies on blending into its surroundings to stay alive as well as its ability to use its moderate speed to escape.

The king cobra has an advantage in physical defenses.

King Cobra vs. Taipan: Predatory Behavior

Both king cobras and taipans are ambush predators. They prefer to sneak up on their prey or wait for it to come to them. However, the king cobra is unique in that it specializes in sneaking up to or otherwise ambushing other snakes.

King cobras have the advantage in terms of their approach to killing prey.  

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a King Cobra and a Taipan?

A king cobra would win a fight against a taipan

King cobras are snake-killers, and that will help them win this fight.

©iStock.com/takeo1775

A king cobra would win a fight against a taipan. The taipan has much deadlier venom, but that’s not going to save it against the great amount of experience that king cobras have in attacking snakes.

Neither snake lives in the same area of the world and they are from different families. No immunity is going to save one snake from the other. Needless to say, if one snake ambushes the other, that snake would be in a great position to win the battle.

Yet, if these animals encountered each other in an open area, then the king cobra has a massive advantage. This snake can raise its head several feet into the air, giving it the ability to bite anywhere it wants on the much smaller taipan. The reach advantage would allow the king cobra to bite downward onto the taipan’s head or body.

If the king cobra managed to land a bite on the taipan’s head, the fight is over without the king cobra being at risk. It’ll bite and hold on to prevent a counterattack.

If the cobra lands a body shot, then the taipan could counterattack. The only thing to remember in this case is the size differential. The taipan’s venom is stronger, but the cobra’s body is a lot bigger. If both snakes got bitten, they’re both going to die. From that point, it’s just a matter of which one expires quicker.

With such a large body, the king cobra could last longer than the much smaller taipan. Either way, that’s a lose-lose situation. What probably won’t happen is the taipan killing the cobra without getting bitten in the process. For all those reasons, the snake-killing king cobra is going to win this fight.

Animals That Could Take Down a King Cobra

Its ability to ambush and kill other snakes, combined with its potent neurotoxic venom, makes the king cobra a supreme predator and any animal going up against it would need to be a formidable opponent. And there are some animals up to the challenge, who successfully hunt and kill cobras.

A king cobra’s main predator is the much smaller mongoose, which grows only 7-25 inches long and weighs around 11 ounces up to 11 pounds. The mongoose’s superpower is that it is resistant to the neurotoxin in the snake’s venom. While not providing complete immunity, this resistance prevents the neurotoxin from binding to the mongoose’s nicotinic acetylcholine receptor so the venom has little effect. This advantage, in addition to its agility, speed, sharp teeth, and and thick coat, means that if the chance arose (these animals typically avoid these snakes) that a mongoose needed to fight an adult king cobra, it would likely win.

If you’re aware of the honey badger‘s reputation for being fearless when it comes to venomous snakes, then it won’t surprise you to learn that they can overpower then eat a king cobra. Like the mongoose, the honey badger has some immunity to the king cobra’s venom and even if it is temporarily knocked out by a bite in combat it will often finish off the snake after regaining consciousness. Their determination, agility, speed, and biting power enable them to win battles with these snakes and chew their heads off.

One animal that isn’t immune to the king cobra’s venom but will boldly attack it regardless is the eagle. Eagles will spy a cobra from afar, swoop down and smash into them at high speed typically resulting in crushing the snake’s skull or decapitating it. The eagle will often eat the snake head-first. Another bird of prey that could take down a king cobra is the hawk. Using a similar attack strategy to the eagle, the hawk uses its sharp talons to dig into the snake’s organs preventing it from striking back.

A crocodile is also able to emerge victorious after going up against a king cobra. When it comes to a crocodile vs. a king cobra, if the crocodile manages to ambush the snake, the battle is over with a single powerful bite at the force of 3,700 psi from the croc. Crocodiles also have such thick skin that even if a cobra got a bite in its fangs may not be long enough for the venom to penetrate their exterior.

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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