Mongoose vs Snake: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Mongoose (Helogale Parvula) - standing against white background
dwi putra stock/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: March 4, 2023

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A mongoose vs snake fight is an amazing battle that pits a mammal that should have no chance on paper against some of the deadliest creatures in the world. Remember, snakes are responsible for over 100,000 human deaths every year, and the mongoose is a much smaller mammal.

So, who would win in a fight? We have taken the data of an average mongoose and put it against an average snake. We’ll examine outliers and talk about situational elements of battle that could influence this match.

Take a look at how a mongoose and snake fight would likely pan out.

Comparing a Mongoose and Snake

mongoose vs snake
A mongoose is a predatory hunter while snakes are deadly ambush predators.
MongooseSnake
SizeWeight: 5lbs – 11lbs
Length: 10in-30in
Weight: 5lbs – 20lbs average (much greater exists)
Length: 36in on average (much greater exists)
Speed and Movement Type– Up to 20 mph
– Runs with a gliding gait, head low to the ground.
– 1-3 Mph on average, faster species, like the sidewinder, move up to 15 mph.
Undulating body motions on the ground is the primary form of locomotion.
Biting Style and Teeth– 28 teeth
– 4 powerful incisors capable of breaking bones
Fangs, some with small grooves that may inject venom.
– Bite power is irrelevant, snakes kill by venom or crushing in most cases.
Senses– Powerful sense of smell used to find burrowed prey
– Good sight during the day
– Very good hearing used for hunting.  
– Some snakes can sense heat with specialized “pits.”
– Flicking tongue aids with their good sense of smell
– Most snakes have poor vision
– Can only hear low frequencies
Defenses– Thick fur
– Resistance to venom    
– Bright colors and sounds can ward off predators
– Can hide in small spaces to make up for a lack of speed.
Offensive Capabilities– Powerful bites
– Agility  
– Sharp claws  
– Venom
-Constriction    
Predatory Behavior– Some species hunt alone, others together
-Ambush predator    
– Sometimes ambush predators but also pursuit predators
– Opportunistic predator

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Mongoose and Snake

What Eats Snakes

Mongoose vs snake comes down to size, speed, and hunting prowess

The mongoose vs snake fight would boil down to a few factors. These include size, speed, the way that the creatures attack, and more. We’ve broken these concepts down into two sections: physical features and combat skills.  

These factors will help us determine which creature comes out on top in a fight.

Physical Features

anaconda slithering through grass

Snakes vary in size and weight, but a mongoose is a small mammal.

When two wild animals fight, size is a great factor. Since we are generalizing the snake category, we used average statistics for them while also using an average mongoose size. They can also vary across species.

Take a look at the physical features to learn how we determined which of these two stands the best chance at walking away after a fight.

Mongoose vs Snake: Size

The mongoose is a small mammal belonging to the cat superfamily, feliforma, so they share a size but nothing else with felines as we know them. The average mongoose weighs between 5-10 pounds and is only 30 inches long.

The average snake weighs up to 20lbs, but many of them can exceed that weight. In terms of length, they’re often 36 inches long, with many of them even longer than that.

For size, snakes get the advantage.

Mongoose vs Snake: Speed and Movement

Snakes vary in their speed and movement a fair amount, but the average snake has trouble reaching 1mph consistently. Their means of moving, an undulating slither, is not the most effective at covering ground quickly.

The mongoose is a small mammal that can run very vast for its size, up to 20mph. Moreover, this animal is exceptionally agile.

The mongoose gets the edge in speed.

Mongoose vs Snake: Bite Power and Teeth

A mongoose has 28 teeth, four of which are powerful incisors that can instantly break bones, including vertebrae and skulls of smaller animals.

The snake bite can be irritating in the best case or deadly in the worst case. Their venom is enough to kill most creatures. Their fangs vary in length, with some more capable of puncturing their prey’s flesh than others.

This category is a tie; both creatures can use their deadliest tools very well.

Mongoose vs Snake: Senses

Snakes have amazing senses that allow them to sense changes in temperature and feel vibrations better than a lot of others. Also, snakes have a good sense of taste, and they can use their tongues to “taste” the air and learn about the environment.

The mongoose also has very keen senses, with good vision, great hearing, and a fantastic sense of smell. On average, the mongoose has better senses than the snake, even though they cannot detect the temperature in the same way.

The mongoose gets the advantage in this situation.

Mongoose vs Snake: Physical Defenses

The snake’s physical defenses boil down to its ability to hide in small spaces along with defensive posturing that scares off a lot of predators. Bright colors, hissing, rattles— people and animals alike know that they mean its time to back off.

The mongoose has more practical defenses, with thick fur and tough skin along with the ability to resist venom, something that comes in handy against snakes.

In this case, the mongoose’s defenses are better, and it gets the advantage.

Combat Skills

Mongoose in Barcelona Zoo

Mongooses rely on their speed and bite to kill while snakes envenomate or crush opponents.

Size and offensive powers are great, but it’s the combat skills that can change the tide in a fight. Learn about the ways that snakes and mongooses fight enemies and kill prey.

Mongoose vs Snake: Offensive Capabilities

The mongoose has serious offensive capabilities. They have strong digging claws, a powerful, bone-snapping bite, and the agility to dance around their prey until they find a weak spot or tire them out.

Snakes can have many offensive capabilities, but they tend to either be venomous or constrictors that crush the life out of their prey. They are careful predators that strike at opportune moments because they are very vulnerable at any place that isn’t their head.

Snakes win this category because of how deadly they are to other creatures around the world.  

Mongoose vs Snake: Predatory Behaviors

The mongoose is an ambush predator that may either go directly for the kill or tire out its prey before moving in and killing them. Some species work alone, and others work in groups to secure a kill.

Snakes vary between ambush predators and pursuit predators, landing a sinister strike on prey or wrapping its body around them and waiting for them to die.

Both creatures are highly effective, but the snake wins for their ability to land the first and often fatal strike.

Mongoose Uses as a Snake Killer

Mongoose (Helogale Parvula) - and baby

Mongooses were released into the wild to curb snake populations, but it didn’t work for many reasons.

The mongoose is a small, agile, tireless predator. The snake is a thin, long, stalking predator that is dangerous to people. As a result, human beings have used the mongoose to hunt down populations of snakes that were pests or otherwise too dangerous for humans.  

This has not always worked out well because the mongoose is not just a snake killer, it kills and eats many other animals. In both Japan and Australia, other environmental complications prevented the mongoose from being an effective biological pest control agent.

The mongoose is an effective snake killer, but that paradigm does not exist in a vacuum. They can always find other prey and avoid killing snakes that pose a risk to them.  

Who Would Win in a Fight Between Mongoose and Snake?

Mongoose (Helogale Parvula) - standing on sandy rock

A mongoose would kill a snake in most situations.

In a fight between the mongoose and the snake, the mongoose would win. This is only based on the average statistics of snakes around the world.

The mongoose is a direct predator of cobras and other venomous snakes of all sizes in its native habitat, clearly showing it has an advantage over them with its ability to avoid their strikes and resist their venom. King Cobras can measure over 7 feet long and still get killed by a mongoose.

Furthermore, the mongoose would likely kill any constrictor that was not as large as it, leaving large constrictor snakes as the only true predator for them out of all snakes.

To fully explore this battle, we have come up with three scenarios:

  • Mongoose vs venomous snake: mongoose dodges bites and cracks snake’s skull.
  • Mongoose vs constrictor snake: a large constrictor strangles the mongoose to death when it gets too close or a small constructor gets bitten, paralyzed, and killed.
  • Mongooses vs constrictor snake: several members of any species of mongoose that hunts in a party overwhelms and kill the constrictor snake.

The bottom line is that the mongoose wins in the vast majority of cases.

What Animal Can Take Down a Mongoose?

Largest Eagles in the World: Martial Eagle

The Martial eagle is nicknamed the “

leopard

of the air” and is Africa’s largest eagle

Eagles: A resistance to venom is all very well and good as is a 20 mph speed too, not to mention lightning-fast reflexes. But facing off against a foe from the skies, those superpowers suddenly become redundant. Especially when the hunter in question happens to be heavier at 14 lbs compared to the mongoose’s 11 lbs and is capable of reaching speeds of 143 mph. 
That predator is none other than the Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus), the largest of its kind on the African continent. Against this raptor which has a wing span of about 6 feet 4 inches (or even 7 feet 10 inches, in some cases), and which is capable of fracturing a human’s arm with one foot or even sending a grown man sprawling, the mongoose would simply be outmatched. As a matter of fact, this feliform often is since it does show up as an item of choice on the menus of these raptors which have a reputation for aggression and are even nicknamed the “leopards of the air.”


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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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