Watch a King Cobra Attack a Pit Viper in Impressive Display of Dominance

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: March 17, 2023
© Sibons photography/
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Think You Know Snakes?
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Key Points

  • Pit vipers are venomous snakes that come in many sizes. The Malabar pit viper averages 41 inches.
  • King cobras, known as the largest venomous snake in the world, are 13 feet in length and have venom strong enough to kill an elephant.
  • In the video the Malabar pit viper is slithering along the river rocks as a king cobra approaches and sinks its fangs into the Malabar’s neck.

It is well known that King Cobras preferred prey is other snakes but seeing one hunt in real life is something else! Watch this fascinating video and admire the technique of this predator!

Pit Vipers – A Highly Evolved Venomous Snake

Pit vipers are no push over! They range in size from snakes like the little massasauga (which grow up to about 30 inches) up to the huge bushmasters (which can reach 12 feet). The snake here is described as a Malabar pit viper which grow to around 41 inches.

Malabar pit viper on a log
Malabar pit vipers can grow to around 41 inches

©Tushar Chindarkar/

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They are all venomous but have different types of venom that contains different types and quantities of chemicals. Some venom is more dangerous than others.

However, they all have hollow fangs through which the venom is delivered into their victim. When they attack, they plunge their fangs into the prey and venom travels from the venom glands at the rear of their heads, through the fangs and into the flesh of their chosen prey. Pit vipers are also themselves prey. They are hunted by other snakes including indigo snakesking snakes, and, as we see here, the king cobra.

King Cobra Hunts a Pit Viper

Head on view of king cobra against a green background
The king cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world.


The footage was published online by the King Cobra Conservancy project. Their mission is to “support ecological research and conservation initiatives aimed at determining the status of King cobras in the wild”. It was shot by volunteers at the ARRS King Cobra Telemetry in India in a 10 acre plot in a jungle clearing.

King cobras prefer habitats that include streams, forests, bamboo thickets or swamps where they can reach up to 20 years of age. They are a very impressive snake. In fact, their venom is sufficient to kill an elephant so it is not surprising that this pit viper succumbs so easily. They are also unique snakes because they build a nest to lay their eggs in. King cobras are the largest venomous snake in the world and can grow up to 13 feet in length!

Is This Normal Behavior?

Yes, it is common for king cobras to eat other snakes. In fact snakes are at the top of their food list, followed by lizards and sometimes small mammals like rodents and birds. If presented with the same type of snake as meals, king cobras may even develop a taste for a specific kind of snake, like Indian cobras or vipers, and seek those out.

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The Featured Image

King cobra in a tree
King cobra in a tree
© Sibons photography/

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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