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Can a king cobra eat an anaconda?

King cobras and anacondas are both impressive snake species. King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world, while anacondas are the heaviest snakes on Earth. With such formidable reptiles, it’s natural to wonder if one could eat the other in a hypothetical battle.

Key Facts About King Cobras and Anacondas

Here are some key facts about each snake species:

King Cobra

  • Scientific name: Ophiophagus hannah
  • Average length: 3-4 m (10-13 ft)
  • Maximum length: 5.7 m (18.8 ft)
  • Native habitat: India, Southeast Asia, southern China
  • Diet: Other snakes, lizards, birds, eggs
  • Venomous: Extremely potent neurotoxin
  • Average lifespan in the wild: 20 years

Green Anaconda

  • Scientific name: Eunectes murinus
  • Average length: 4-6 m (13-20 ft)
  • Maximum length: 8 m (26 ft)
  • Native habitat: South America – Amazon and Orinoco basins
  • Diet: Birds, mammals, fish, turtles, crocodiles
  • Constrictor: Kills prey by coiling around and suffocating
  • Average lifespan in the wild: 10 years

As you can see, both the king cobra and anaconda are apex predators capable of eating large prey. But which snake would win in a hypothetical battle between these serpent heavyweights?

Factors Favoring the King Cobra

Here are some key advantages the king cobra would have over the anaconda:


The king cobra’s extremely toxic venom could potentially kill the anaconda if it lands a good bite. King cobra venom contains neurotoxins that paralyze muscle function, including the muscles required for breathing. Just one bite from a king cobra can kill 20 people or even an elephant.


King cobras can move surprisingly fast, at speeds up to 7 mph for short bursts. This is faster than anacondas, which typically move at just 1-1.5 mph. The cobra’s speed gives it an advantage in landing an early attack.


King cobras are more agile than the bulkier anacondas. They can rear up and “periscope” their heads up to one-third of their body length off the ground. This allows them to scan their surroundings and strike swiftly.

Factors Favoring the Anaconda

However, the anaconda has some advantages of its own that could allow it to take down a king cobra:


Anacondas can grow to over 500 lbs, much larger than king cobras. Their massive size and strength helps them overpower large prey.


Anacondas kill by constricting prey. Once they latch onto the king cobra, they could potentially suffocate it to death. Their muscular coils exert tremendous pressure on prey.

Aquatic Habitat

Anacondas spend much of their time in the water and are stealthy swimmers. A water battle could favor the anaconda since cobras prefer land.

Hypothetical Fight Scenarios

Here are some hypothetical scenarios where the snakes might encounter each other and battle it out:

Territorial Battle

A king cobra enters an anaconda’s territory near a riverbank, and the anaconda strikes to defend its turf. The cobra tries to stay on land where it has the advantage in speed and agility. But the anaconda manages to pull it into the water and constrict.

Predation Attempt

A hungry king cobra spots a large anaconda basking on shore and attempts to eat it. The cobra is faster on land and tries to bite the anaconda’s head. But the anaconda coils around the cobra’s body and overpowers it through constriction.

Surprise Attack

An anaconda is stealthily swimming through a river when a king cobra suddenly drops down from overhanging branches to ambush it. The cobra quickly bites the anaconda but only injures it. The anaconda then thrashes around and constricts the cobra underwater.

Likely Outcome

So which snake would ultimately win in a fight to the death? Here’s an assessment of the probable outcome:

  • The king cobra is faster and more venomous, but the anaconda is larger and a constrictor.
  • In an open land battle, the king cobra likely has the edge with speed and venom.
  • In the water, the advantage goes to the anaconda due to its size and constriction abilities.
  • A surprise attack or territorial battle favors whichever snake lands the first blow.
  • Overall the anaconda has more ways to kill the king cobra, leading to an eventual win.

The anaconda’s tremendous size and constriction abilities give it the overall edge in most scenarios. King cobras are not adapted to handle large prey like anacondas. While the cobra’s venom poses a threat, more often than not the anaconda is likely to overpower it through brute strength alone.

Exceptional Cases

There are some exceptional cases where a king cobra may be able to eat an anaconda:

  • If the cobra is much larger than average (18+ feet long).
  • If the anaconda is small or a juvenile.
  • If the cobra delivers an immediately fatal venom bite to the head.

However, these situations would be rare exceptions. In most cases betweeen average-sized snakes, the anaconda has the advantage.

What Do Experts Say?

Herpetologists and wildlife experts generally agree the anaconda’s size and strength would give it an edge over the venomous king cobra:

“Pound for pound, anacondas are the largest and strongest snakes. The king cobra simply isn’t built to eat huge prey like anacondas.” – Dr. Samuel L. Rhodes, herpetologist

“Assuming average sizes for each species, I’d expect the anaconda to win through constriction in most scenarios. King cobras aren’t designed to handle massive prey like giant snakes.” – Dr. Clarissa Murphy, wildlife ecologist

“The only chance for the cobra is landing an immediate fatal bite. Otherwise the anaconda will just overwhelm it through size and power as a constrictor.” – Dr. Jerome Martin, snake expert

Evidence of Anacondas Eating King Cobras

There are documented cases of green anacondas preying on king cobras in the wild:

  • A study in Venezuela found the remains of king cobras in 17% of anaconda stomachs examined.
  • Zookeepers have observed anacondas killing and consuming king cobras when housed together.
  • Videos exist of anacondas eating king cobras in staged encounters or controlled feedings.

While these cases don’t necessarily represent natural conditions, they still demonstrate the anaconda’s ability to kill and eat king cobras when given the opportunity.

Could a King Cobra Eat an Anaconda?

It’s highly unlikely a king cobra could successfully eat an anaconda except in very rare circumstances where it’s considerably larger. Here’s why cobras eating anacondas is improbable:

  • King cobras eat relatively small prey no wider than their neck.
  • They are not anatomically suited to consuming huge meals.
  • Cobras rely on venom, not size/strength, to subdue prey.
  • Anacondas far exceed a cobra’s size threshold for prey.

King cobras have only been documented eating small to medium-sized snakes like rat snakes and vipers. Trying to eat a massive anaconda would almost certainly end badly for the cobra.


In most real world encounters, the anaconda has a clear advantage over the king cobra. The cobra is quicker and more venomous, but the anaconda far exceeds it in size and power. Through constriction and brute strength, the anaconda is more likely to prevail in a fight to the death. The king cobra simply isn’t built to eat giant snakes like anacondas under normal circumstances. That’s why documented cases support the conclusion that an anaconda can eat a king cobra, but not vice versa.