Snakes that eat other snakes are called ophiophagies. Not all of them have venom, and some have evolved to become immune to the rattlesnake’s powerful venom. Some snake species that eat rattlesnakes include the Eastern Indigo, King Snake, Coachwhip, Milk Snake, Black Snake, and the King Cobra.
Ophiophagy is not a behavior concentrated on snakes. Any animal that feeds on snakes is Ophiophagus.
Many snakes eat other animals, but it takes a special type of cunning and wit to take on and eat a rattlesnake. Let’s take a look at six ferocious snakes that can eat rattlesnakes.
Snakes That Eat Rattlesnakes
1. Black Racers
The black racer is a large black snake. Its belly is dark grey or black, and it can grow to 60 inches or five feet. A black racer is a constrictor, and it is non-venomous. It is endemic to North and Central America and has been known to eat rattlesnakes.
This snake has 11 sub-species, and snake enthusiasts refer to them as easter racers. They are called so because they slither fast, especially when confronted by danger.
They are great at adapting to their environment, but they are usually abundant in forest edges. One can also find many of them in wetlands.
Even if black racers eat other snakes, it is not known whether they actively hunt their kind. They are not like the king cobra—a snake that primarily feeds on other snakes.
Read Also: Snakes that Eat Humans
2. King Snakes
King Snakes are a terrestrial snake group made up of seven species. King snakes are found in Canada and Ecuador. They can grow to five feet in length. Like the black racer, a king snake is non-venomous, and they are also constrictors.
Their diet mainly consists of amphibians and bird eggs. They also eat birds, other small mammals, and other snakes.
The king snake, despite being relatively medium-sized, can take on a rattlesnake. They are also fierce. Most snakes would flee in the presence of a larger animal, but king snakes would attack.
The king snake’s secret is its muscle mass. Even if they are just about the size of rat snakes, the king snakes have more constricting power.
In a show by Discovery Channel, they showed a king snake 1.2 meters long that attacked a rattlesnake. In the video, the king snake was significantly smaller than the rattlesnake, but it used its power to subdue the rattlesnake.
King snakes are immune to a rattlesnake’s venom. However, a rattlesnake can kill a king snake with the force of its bite.
See Also: 10 Snakes that Eat Birds
The Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum) is non-venomous, and can grow to up to five feet in length. It is slender and has a significant presence in Florida.
Like most snakes, it feeds on lizards, eggs, turtles, frogs, and other snakes. It is a diurnal creature, and many people think that they are constrictors.
It is partially true, but they mostly overpower their prey with their jaws. Typically, they subdue the prey on the ground, or they swallow the prey alive.
One myth that surrounds the coachwhip is that they chase people. Of course, this is not true. Snakes avoid humans. Sometimes, they just happen to slither in the same direction as to where the scared person is going.
4. Milk Snakes
The milk snake is one of the favorites of pet keepers. They are non-venomous, and they usually look like copperheads and coral snakes. Milk snakes are docile and will thrive in captivity, but in the wild they feed on small snakes, including rattlesnakes.
Juvenile milk snakes eat crickets and insects. They also eat slugs and earthworms. Those that keep them as pets would also feed them lizards or rats.
Milk snakes hunt at night. In areas where there are humans, they typically live in barns. One popular myth about milk snakes is that they suck cow udders to get milk. This, of course, is not true.
Being carnivorous, they do eat rattlesnakes. It is not unusual to find young milk snakes feeding on other young snakes in the wild.
Read More: Can Snakes be Domesticated?
5. King Cobra
The king cobra is one scary snake, as its main diet is other snakes. The king cobra can grow up to 13 feet and live for 20 years.
What makes it fearsome is that it is one of the most venomous snakes on earth. It can stand up to look tall, so high that it can look a person in the eye. Another feat it can do is it can lunge itself forward. It can lift to a third of its body and strike off the ground.
King Cobras are generally not aggressive to humans. However, they will bite if cornered or during the mating season. Their venom is strongly toxic that an elephant will die in a matter of hours after a cobra delivers its venom.
Read More: The World’s Most Aggressive Snake
6. Eastern Indigo
The eastern indigo looks like a black racer, but they are different. The eastern indigo is the Drymarchon couperi. Like the black racer, the eastern indigo belongs to the Colubridae family of snakes and is non-venomous.
It is commonly found in the southeast areas of the United States.
Like many snakes, it eats any animal that it can overpower, and of course, fit in its mouth. One thing that makes this snake interesting is that it beats its prey on objects. Like a cobra, it has a tendency to flatten its neck and hiss if it is on a defensive mode.
Eastern indigo is muscular and can grow a little over five feet. In the wild, it will not back down from a rattlesnake. It takes on the role of the aggressor, and the rattlesnake is usually the one that backs off.
When an eastern indigo attacks, it strikes several times on different areas of its target. It has huge fangs and uses force to bash the prey against a hard surface. Snake keepers feed this species with dead prey, so it can’t hurt itself bashing its prey against its tank.
Read Also: Four Snakes that Eat Humans
Despite being venomous, the rattlesnake is not at the top of the food chain. It has many predators in the wild, such as eagles and owls, and even other snakes.
Animals that eat snakes have a behavior called Ophiophagy, and many snakes share this feeding habit. However, it is rare for a snake to actively hunt its own kind. The exception is the king cobra, which prefers eating other snakes, including fellow king cobras.
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Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.