Snakes come in a variety of shapes & sizes, developed over 128 million years by evolution. There are over 3000 species known. They are loved or loathed by people across the globe. They have been in our favourite cartoons growing up, worshipped in some cultures & are even a delicacy in others! Snake meat is high in protein & magnesium.
Ophiophagy (Greek ὄφις + φαγία “snake eating”) is a specialised form of feeding or alimentary behavior of animals which hunt and eat snakes.
Personally, when I think of snakes, I get a shiver down my spine & like most people will avoid one at all cost!
Surprisingly though, this is not the case in the animal kingdom. Some creatures are not a big wimp like me & will actively hunt & devour snakes.
What animals eat snakes?
A large variety of species will seek out the serpents for their next meal and eat them such as Wild Boards, Other Snakes, Foxes, Mongoose, Skunks,Aligators,Certain Birds. They are a nutritious meal & easy picking for some animals.
In a part of Texas, Rattle Snakes were hunted to such an extent by Boars, they no longer ‘rattled’. This was to not alert the boars to their location.
Snakes: Cannibalism in the serpent world is common. A couple of snake species diet mainly consists of other snakes. The mighty Anaconda is not even safe. Younger prey on the older Anacondas, who are not as fast & strong.
Foxes: Naturally, omnivores, they will eat snakes on occasion.
Mongoose: The most famous of all snake killers. Several viral videos, showcasing their fighting skills against snakes have been viewed across the world.
Skunks: A large variety of creatures makes up its diet. This includes everything from larvae to spiders & snakes.
Alligators: Part of the Crocodilian family, they are known to feast on snakes. They, themselves, are prey to some larger snakes though.
Birds: Snakes biggest predator. A large variety of birds hunt snakes & some are even trained by humans to hunt them.
Dog Eat Dog
Snakes eating each other is relatively common among some species. The best-known cannibalistic snake is the King Cobra. Found in India & SE Asia, its diet primarily consists of snakes. A recent study by National Geographic has found other types of Cobra routinely eat their own kind. This was a surprise to scientists who thought this only happened occasionally.
Death from Above!
Different species of birds across the planet are well known to hunt snakes. Herons, Hawks & Owls to name but a few.
The world’s heaviest bird species, the Kori Bustard is known to hunt snakes. Found in Africa, this flying giant kills the snake by holding its head with its claws then repeatedly pecking the body until death.
To Protect & Serve
Humans use certain animals that keeps snakes away & control their population. Honey Badgers, Eagles, Mongoose & Opossums are used. This may be to protect locals, livestock or even for conservational reasons.
Some invasive snake species have been known to eat eggs of other animals or kill animals that inhabit that area therefore upsetting the ecosystem.
This is the case in the Everglades in Florida. During the 1970 & 80’s, there was a large demand for exotic animals. Burmese Pythons were released into the swamps by careless owners & they have devastated the ecosystem by killing a lot of the mammals. It is estimated there are hundreds of thousands of these giants in the area.
The local Government offers bounties & regularly holds competitions for people to kill the invaders. Hunters have been known to use specially trained canines to find the snakes.
Cats & dogs are bound to meet a snake, depending where you live of course. Naturally, cats will be more than curious when they see a moving smaller animal. This can end badly for the cat if the snake is poisonous.
Dogs are more likely to attack the snake to protect their self or you. Some breeds can be trained to hunt them, but snakes are not in the canine diet.
Are snakes scared of dogs? The average house pet will not be enough to scare a snake or keep it from your property.
What Animal Kills the Most Snakes?
Top 10 Snake Killers
The Mongoose: Do not be fooled by its cuteness! This small, yet fierce carnivore takes on the mighty King Cobras. The mongoose will first, tire out the snake by ‘dancing’ around, masterfully avoiding its strikes. Sensing the snake is exhausted, the mongoose goes in for the kill. A bite to the spinal cord & snaps the snake’s neck!
Due to its reputation, a lot of people wrongly assume the mongoose is immune to the poison. Although they can tolerate enough in their system that kill 8 humans!
The Honey Badger: Known across the world for its fearlessness, bees, wasps, scorpion & snakes are on the menu for this mammal. A lifetime of stings & bites from poisonous creatures has allowed the Honey Badger to develop almost an immunity to the poison. This combined with its thick fur & ferociousness make it one animal creatures would not want to mess with.
King Cobra: The world’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to 18 feet in length! Found throughout India & SE Asia. Their diet mainly consists of other snakes. They are probably most famous as being the preferred choice of snake charmers in this region. They generally try to avoid humans.
Secretary Bird: Found in Sub-Saharan Africa, they have been known to eat everything from Cheetah Cubs to Turtles. Humans in the region have a fondness for the large birds as they kill pests & snakes in the area. Primarily Adders & Cobras they kill by stomping on them at a force 5 times their body weight.
Hedgehog: A nocturnal animal, they are bound to meet snakes when foraging at night. They have been documented killing vipers in the wild. The porcupine will agitate the snake, then curl up in a ball. When the serpent lunges in for a bite, it gets injured on the quills of the hedgehog. This will go on repeatedly until the snake tires. Similarly, to the mongoose, the hedgehog will then bite the snake’s spinal cord. Hours will then be spent eating the snake, headfirst.
Kingsnake: Found across the USA, they obtained their name due to their appetite for other snakes. Highly resistant to venom, they are even known to consume rattlesnakes.
Snake Eagle: This large bird of prey, takes on some of the world’s deadliest snakes, including the Black Mamba. Using its big talons, the eagle will swipe down & grab the snake. Whilst flying into the air with its next meal in its grasp, it will crush the serpent’s head or rip it off completely. Before consuming it whole.
Bobcat: Their diet usually consists of small mammals, hairs, rabbits, deer etc. but are known to also hunt & eat snakes. The frequency of this though depends on the location though. Bobcats found in the Southern USA & Mexico are more prone to eat snakes. This is due to the scarceness of their normal diet in this habitat.
Scottish Terrier: Known to naturally have the tendency to hunt, pretty much anything that moves. Trained to kill small rodents & pests, the Terrier has also been trained to hunt & kill snakes.
10.Wolverines: No qualms about getting into a fight with animals much larger than itself. Found primarily in the cold areas Northern Hemisphere. Not their primary source of food but snakes are on the menu if they encounter them.
What Are Snakes Afraid Of?
Snakes are afraid of several things, including people! Even though a large proportion of us fear snakes, they really are more wary of us & will try their best to avoid humans.
A poisonous bite which would kill you or me, may have little or no effect on some animals. These are the ones the snake usually steers clear from. So, what animal is immune to snake venom?
Species of birds (including the Secretary Bird)
Some species of snake
Some species of squirrel
Sea snakes are more venomous than typical land snakes. This is due to a number of fish species being immune to the snakes poison.
Snakes have developed fear of most things which hunts them in their natural habitat.
If the snake does not consider an animal food, and it is much larger than itself, it is most likely going to stay clear. After all, they are not going to take on an elephant!
Do Squirrels Eat Snakes?
The bright eyed, bushy tailed creature you see foraging in your garden or local park are not as sweet as they look! Yes, their diet primarily consists of what you would expect… seeds, nuts & plants. But in some parts of the globe, species of squirrel take on lizards & snakes.
So, what gives them the audacity to take on the deadly fangs of a snake? Are squirrels immune to snake bites? In some cases, yes. The California Squirrel for instance, has developed immunity over time to the poison of a Rattlesnake.
Do Raccoons Eat Snakes?
Raccoons will happily feast on an abundant of different animals. This includes frogs, fish, animal eggs & snakes. Garter Snakes is a common species found in North America. What animal eats Garter snakes? Raccoons, which are native to this area. Other Garter predators include otters, Coral & King snakes & birds of prey.
What Eats Snakes in The Desert?
Snakes do not have as many predators in the desert, in comparison to other habitats. Food, being more scarce means more animals are willing to risk taking on a snake.
The Mojave Desert Snake for example, is known to be extremely aggressive & its potent is 8 times that of a Rattlesnake. This is even on the menu for some animals. This includes Owls, Bobcats & birds of prey, such as Hawks.
What Eats a Snake in the Rainforest?
The rainforest has an abundant of wildlife, a majority of which is only found in this amazing part of the World. The Amazon is home to a vast number of snakes, including giant Boas!
Scientists know of 17 venomous species of snakes but are confident more will be found.
So, what eats snakes in the rainforest?
Snakes share the rainforest with apex predators like the big cats, Crocodiles & large birds of prey. These animals are top of the food chain & snakes are on their menu.
Saltwater Crocodile: Found across Oceania, these giant killing machines is an opportunistic hunter, this deadly predator can grow up to 7 metres in length. They will devour any snakes that it comes across. Other species of the Crocodilian family also eat snakes, the Caiman, for example.
King Cobra: The rainforest is the natural habitat of this 18-foot cannibalistic snake.
Tigers: These beautiful, endangered animals stalk & pounce on their prey from behind. A large Anaconda is even on the menu!
How many people do snakes kill each year?
Approximately 100 000 people. About half of these deaths occur in India.
What is the longest snake ever recorded?
A 25 foot 2 inches long (7.67 meters) reticulated python named Medusa, holds the record In the Guinness Book of World Records. She lives in captivity in the USA.
What’s the most poisonous snake?
The Inland Taipan’s venom is so deadly, it could kill over 100 humans with one bite.
Can a snake swallow a human?
Rare, but yes. The most recent case was back in 2007, in Indonesia. A man was found inside a 23 ft Python