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13 Crazy Snakes That Eat Other Snakes (King Cobras and More)

Snakes are very opportunistic eaters who will adapt their diet in different environments. This has led many snakes to evolve to be cannibals who kill and eat other snakes.

snakes that eat other snakes

Of all snakes, King Cobras are known to be the most aggressive in pursuing other snakes. preferring to eat other snakes above all other potential meals. Mussuranas also almost exclusively eat other snakes, particularly pit vipers and rattlesnakes.

Other snakes that eat other snakes include coral snakes, coachwhips, kraits, indigo snakes, coachwhips, and black racers.

Snakes That Eat Other Snakes

1. King Cobras

Scientific NameOphiophagus hannah
RangeSouth-East Asia. Common in India.
Venom ToxicityHigh
Conservation StatusVulnerable

King Cobras almost exclusively feed on other snakes and lizards. They are even known to eat other King Cobras!

The snakes they feed on include:

  • Indian Cobras
  • Banded Krait
  • Rat Snake
  • Pythons
  • Green Whip Snakes
  • Keelbacks
  • Banded Wolf Snakes
  • Blyth’s Reticulated Snake
  • Pit Vipers

They are found in parts of India and Southeast Asia. Their scientific name, ophiophagy, literally means ‘snake eater’ in Ancient Greek.

They are also known to eat other reptiles such as monitor lizards, but they prefer to hunt other snakes.

King Cobras have a very strong sense of smell and use their long tongues to track down the scent of other snakes.

Interestingly, researchers have found that they prefer to eat snakes head first, which helps with digestion.

2. Mussuranas

Scientific NameClelia clelia
RangeCentral and South America
Venom ToxicityMild
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Mussuranas prey almost exclusively on other snakes. Their main diet is pit vipers and rattlesnakes.

This makes Mussuranas second only to King Cobras in the list of snakes that eat other snakes. Most other snakes in this list will eat rodents primarily and other snakes secondarily.

Like other snake-eating snakes, they’re immune to the venom of their prey (namely, pit vipers), but they are not immune to coral snakes, so may avoid them.

They’re known to be picky eaters and will often in captivity only eat live snakes which poses difficulties for handlers who would usually prefer to provide dead meat to captive snakes.

Mussuranas are very large snakes, reaching lengths of up to 2.1m (7 feet). They are terrestrial, meaning they prefer to hunt from the forest floor.

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3. Kingsnakes

Scientific NameLampropeltini lampropeltis
RangeSouth-Eastern Canada to Equador
Venom ToxicityNon-venomous constrictor.
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Kingsnakes borrow their namesakes from the infamous King Cobra because they also prefer to eat other snakes.

They are thought to have developed immunity to the venom of snakes across their range. They are even known to eat rattlesnakes regularly thanks to their highly developed immunity to rattlesnake venom. However, they’re not immune to the venom of snakes from outside of North America.

The Kingsnake is a non-venomous constructor, meaning it will squeeze its prey to death before eating it.

Kingsnakes come in a variety of subspecies and types. They are found in North America and the northern tip of South America.

4. Black Racers

Scientific NameColuber constrictor priapus
RangeSouth-Eastern and Central United States
Venom ToxicityNon-venomous
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Black racers are known to not only eat other snakes, but also actively hunt them down.

They get their name from their excellent ground speed, which allows them to chase down prey. As hunters rather than ambush predators, they will put this speed to use during the hunt.

While black racers are known to eat other snakes, they also eat one another. This cannibalistic behavior means black racers need to be on the look out for others of their species who may be stalking them.

The above video shows a black racer eating a cottonmouth. Interestingly, cottonmouths are venomous while black racers are non-venomous. They’re not constructors though, so they rely on their ability to crush and suffocate victims with their bite.

5. Indigo Snakes

Scientific NameDrymarchon couperi
RangeFlorida, Georgia, Alabama
Venom ToxicityNon-Venomous
Conservation StatusThreatened

Indigos have a wide a varied diet and will eat anything from birds, amphibians, lizards, rodents and other snakes.

Scientists believe that indigo snakes are immune to rattlesnake venom, allowing them to attack and subdue rattlesnakes despite the fact Indigo snakes are non-venomous.

While most non-venomous snakes construct their prey, the Indigo snake instead kills its target by rapidly smashing it against rocks.

Indigo snakes inhabit the south-eastern parts of the United States, particularly Florida, and have a declining overall population. They can grow up to 8.5 ft long and most commonly inhabit wetlands and sandhills.

6. Krait Snakes

Scientific NameBungarus caeruleus
RangeSouth-East Asia, particularly India
Venom ToxicityHigh
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Kraits eat other snakes, including blind worms (who are, in fact, snakes). They have also been observed eating other Krait snakes, making them cannibalistic.

Krait are also known to scavenge dead snakes and will eat lizards, frogs, mice, and rats. However, their main diet is other snakes.

Kraits are highly venomous and are known to have killed humans. Their bite is so subtle that it can feel like an ant bite, so some people can die without even realizing they have been bitten by a snake.

They are most commonly found in India and Sri Lanka. Because these snakes are fairly common, they have developed into several different subspecies that live and thrive in tropical or subtropical environments.

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7. Coral Snakes

Scientific NameElapoidea elapidae
RangeSouthern USA
Venom ToxicityHigh
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Coral snakes share the same genome as King Cobras, Kraits and Cobras, all of whom are also snake eaters.

Once a coral snake has picked up the scent of its prey, it will often set up an ambush attack. They are extremely patient predators who sometimes wait for up to nine hours to launch an attack.

They don’t feed exclusively on other snakes, they have a varied diet that includes frogs, lizards and some species of small birds.

While they’re highly venomous, they have trouble delivering their venom due to short fangs. To overcome this, they tend to latch on when they bite and move their jaw in a chewing motion. This helps facilitate the delivery of venom.

While they’re highly venomous, they’re also reclusive and rarely bite humans.

8. Angolan Cobra

Scientific NameNaja anchietae
RangeSouth-Western Africa
Venom ToxicityHigh
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

The Angolan Cobra, known as a ‘true’ cobra, will eat other snakes as part of a varied diet.

While the King Cobra is known to be the most aggressive snake eater, they’re technically not even cobras! Many ‘true’ cobras, such as the Angolan Cobra, do also eat snakes if the opportunity arises.

The Angolan Cobra (also known as Anchieta’s Cobra) is one such cobra that eats other snakes. It is native to Angola and surrounding countries in southwestern Africa.

It has a varied diet which includes small mammals and reptiles, but also other snakes that cross its path.

There are some cobras that do not eat other snakes (the Banded Water Cobra, for example, almost exclusively eats fish). So, you need to look species to species within the cobra genus, known scientifically as the Naja genus of snakes.

9. Milk Snakes

Scientific NameLampropeltis triangulum
RangeSouth-Eastern Canada to Venezuela
Venom ToxicityNon-venomous
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

The Milk Snake is a subspecies of king snakes, and much like the common kingsnake, it will eat other snakes.

They’re non-venomous hunters who will eat a range of small rodents, insects, and amphibians. They live in and around the same region as corn snakes and are known to eat corn snakes, as shown in the above footage.

Expect to find milk snakes out at night during summertime, especially around barns and chicken coops. They’re skittish around humans, but keen hunters of other animals.

10. Coachwhips

Scientific NameMasticophis flagellum
RangeSouthern USA
Venom ToxicityNon-Venomous
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Coachwhip snakes are known to eat rattlesnakes. Interestingly, they’re neither venomous or constrictors. They rely on their powerful jaws to subdue their pay.

They’re also known to be highly intelligent snakes with both excellent ground speed and eyesight. Both traits are rare among snakes.

When a fellow snake is spotted by a Coachwhip, they move very quickly and usually chase down and catch up to their prey within seconds. They also eat small lizards, amphibians, and small rodents.

Coachwhip snakes are unique to the southern parts of the United States and northern Mexico. They like areas with dryer climates, and as such are active year-round.

11. Cottonmouth Snakes

Scientific NameAgkistrodon piscivorus
RangeSouth-Eastern USA from Texas to Florida
Venom ToxicityModerately venomous
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Cottonmouth snakes mostly eat fish but they have been known to eat other water snakes and land snakes in high volumes. They even sometimes feed on other Cottonmouths when given the opportunity.

Cottonmouth snakes (commonly known as Water Moccasins) are a variety of the venomous Pit Viper. They are endangered in Indiana but abundant further south, particularly in Florida.

They get the name Water Moccasins due to their excellent swimming abilities and preference to live in and around aquatic environments.

A common trait amongst Pit Vipers is the ‘sit and wait’ tactic which they use to ambush their prey. These snakes don’t like to waste valuable energy and will often wait for their prey and attack them with ferocious speed.

12. Garter Snakes

Scientific NameThamnophis
RangeNorth America
Venom ToxicityLow
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Garter snakes rarely eat other snakes, but there is some evidence to suggest that they will eat other snakes when the opportunity arises.

The garter snake is the most common snake throughout much of North America. They aren’t exclusive to any particular habitat, but won’t head north to Alaska because of the colder weather.

Garter snakes tend to have a varied diet which includes earthworms, slugs, amphibians, fish, insects and crayfish. Occasionally, they will eat other snakes if there aren’t sufficient food sources nearby.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you do not keep pet garter snakes in the same cage.

While we historically thought they were non-venomous, it’s not believed garter snakes do have low venom toxicity, but not enough to kill a human.

13. Copperheads

Scientific NameAgkistrodon contortrix
RangeSouth-Eastern United States
Venom ToxicityModerate
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

While copperheads aren’t known to eat other snakes regularly, Smithsonian’s National Zoo believes copperheads will eat smaller snakes at times.

Generally, we think of snakes like copperheads and garter snakes as ‘generalists’, meaning they will eat just about anything depending on their habitat.

So, while the copperhead has a diverse diet that usually includes rodents and amphibians, they may eat snakes if the opportunity arises.

However, the copperhead itself is frequently eaten by kingsnakes and cottonmouths. So, they’re also likely to try to avoid other snakes if they can.

FAQs

Do Corn Snakes Eat Other Snakes?

We have seen on some of our competitors’ sites claims that corn snakes eat other snakes. However, in our research we have not identified any evidence from authoritative, scientific, or academic sources of this behavior.

The best we can surmise is that corn snakes are likely to attack other snakes if placed in the same cage. Like all snakes, corn snakes like to be left alone. If they’re in the same enclosure as another snake, they will feel very threatened and may attack one another out of fear.

It may also be true that corn snakes are generalists like garter snakes, who might eat other snakes if they have no better prey in their habitat.

Nevertheless, in the wild, corn snakes are not well-known to attack other snakes and prefer to eat rodents and amphibians.

Conclusion

Most snakes don’t eat other snakes, but there are some who have evolved to almost exclusively eat snakes – the King Cobra and Massurana. In the United States, the most common snake-eating snake is the kingsnake, who will often be seen eating corn snakes. Black racers are also a common snake-eating snake in the United States, and they in fact stalk other snakes before eating them.