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

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 9, 2023

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Continue reading for our analysis...

King cobra in a tree
© Sibons photography/

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 pushovers! They range in size from snakes like the little massasauga (which grows 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 grows to around 41 inches.

Malabar pit viper on a log

Malabar pit vipers can grow to around 41 inches.

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©Tushar Chindarkar/

They are all venomous but have different types of venom that contain 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 to 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.

Cobra with raised heads

Cobras commonly eat other snakes.


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How Large Are Adult King Cobras?

close up of a king cobra

The king cobra is the longest venomous snake.


With average sizes ranging from 10 to 12 feet in length, the king cobra ranks as the longest venomous snake and is even capable of reaching 18 feet long. According to the Guinness World Record, the longest one on record was an astounding 18.8 feet!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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