Some people (most people) are terrified of snakes, that much we know. But. is there anything that makes snakes afraid?
What Scares Snakes?
Snakes have a number of predators, some of which we may not think of right away. Many animals love a snake meal every now and then. Even snakes eat other snakes, some of them preferring that meal to any other (king cobras, kraits).
Snakes Are Afraid of Some of Our Pets
On the ground, dogs and cats can bring death to a snake that cannot defend itself. To be honest, in most cases I think a dog or cat is going to win most battles with a snake. Still, snakes get the best of dogs and cats sometimes. I wrote about a friend I have here in Krabi, Thailand who lost a pit bull to a spitting cobra years ago. The snake was able to bite the dog on the snout, resulting in a horribly painful bite and rather quick death as the heart stopped.
Over more than a decade, I’ve had dozens of pet owners write to me to tell me about a dog or cat that met its demise at the jaws of a snake. Pythons sometimes (often) prey on adult dogs and cats, so that’s one instance (the only) in which the snake is hunting adult dogs and cats.
So, dogs and cats usually kill snakes they fight with. The one consistent exception is probably the spitting cobras. The ability to launch venom through the air 2-3 meters in a fine mist petty much ensures its survival against most predators who don’t understand what they’re dealing with. The burning sensation renders the attacking dog or cat helpless and the spitting cobra slithers away if it hasn’t already been mortally wounded.
Snakes May Be Afraid of Other Snakes
King cobras prefer to prey on other snakes, as do Malayan and Banded Kraits. Not enough is known about Red-headed Kraits to say with any certainty, but snakes probably make up a good portion of their diet.
Other cobras routinely prey on snakes. I found a monocled cobra one night and had her on my hook for a few minutes before letting her go. Ten-minutes later, I found a Laotian Wolf Snake. When I moved the hook near the snake, it absolutely flipped out – twisting, flopping, turning, trying desperately to get away. It took me a second to realize, the snake must have been afraid for its life after smelling the monocled cobra on the hook.
Sunbeam snakes eat other snakes. We once saw one turn-on strongly when a Laotian Wolf Snake was in close proximity.
Cat Snakes in the Boiga genus will eat other snakes. I once saw a Green Cat snake attempt to eat a White-lipped Pit Viper. The Boiga had the viper’s entire head in his mouth, going for it before someone stopped it. This was in captivity and the two snakes were put in the same tank. An unfortunate situation, to be honest.
At the Red Cross Snake Farm (Saovabha) in Bangkok, I watched an Oriental Rat Snake (P. mucosus) began swallowing a large Radiated Rat snake headfirst. He got it down about 30 cm. before thinking better of it and spitting it out.
The Keeled Rat snake is said to be a snake eater.
Weasels, mongooses, monitor lizards, rats, hog badgers, owls, hawks, chickens, eagles, centipedes, spiders, and other animals prey on snakes of various sizes and their eggs. Snakes fear (or more likely just know to attempt to avoid) these animals.
What Are Snakes Afraid Of Most?
Maybe humans! We are the cause of death for many snakes!
Some of the Ways Humans Kill Snakes
- run over by vehicles
- slaughtered with sticks or machetes
- pesticides (poisoned)
- trapped and killed
- killed and eaten
- killed for skins
- killed for gall bladders
- killed for heads in superstitious rituals
- destruction of life-sustaining habitat
- introduce to disease in captivity
- fed to other snakes in captivity