Do Eagles Eat Snakes? (Answered)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Eagles are one of the world’s top and largest predators. Eagles are predominantly carnivores and will eat only meat.

Eagles do eat snakes, though it is not their primary food they are usually seen attacking snakes with the aim being to eat.

Eagles mainly eat fishes, lizards, large insects, rabbits, hares and basically any small animal that they can easily carry.

In a battle to kill the snake, the eagle has to be smart enough to avoid the snake’s poisonous venom.

This article will discuss if eagles do kill snakes, if eagles are immune to snake venom, whether they eat snakes and if the eagles are afraid of anything. 

Can An Eagle Kill A Snake?

Do Eagles Eat Snakes

Eagles can kill snakes to eat however they are not usually successful as the snake will also try everything possible to defend itself such as spitting venom if it is a venomous snake.

Out of all the eagle species, the snake eagle is the biggest expert at killing snakes.

The snake eagle has strong lower legs and talons and when they come across a snake they will swoop down suddenly and grab the snake hooking it with their talons.

The snake eagle has scales on its legs and feet which serve to protect it from snake bites and venom especially when dealing with poisonous snakes like the cobra or black mamba.

The brown snake eagle is the strongest of the snake eagles and can eat the snake whole starting from the head after capture.

Most often after grabbing the snake, the eagle crushes the snake’s head or its spine either by pinning into the ground or mid air while flying. 

The eagle doesn’t always win the battle every time especially if it has lost the element of surprise.

The snake will use mock strikes to defend itself as seen in this video of a brown eagle snake and a cobra. The cobra wins the fight and the snake eagle has to give up the fight. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on eagles and their predators

Does A Bald Eagle Eat A Snake?

Bald eagles eat snakes although it’s not their primary source of food. Bald eagles who are native to the US choose to make their habitats near sources of water so it is easy for them to hunt for fish which is their primary diet.

When they can, bald eagles kill and eat snakes in their territory. Just like every other eagle, they watch the snakes for a while perched high, then swoop down to grab the snake.

If the eagle has lost the element of surprise then he tries to entice the snake into a battle to tire it out.

It would keep grabbing the snake’s tail and when the snake loses its guards, the eagle comes in for the kill.

The eagle doesn’t always win the battle though as it sometimes has to give up to save its skin.

Snake venom is dangerous to the immune system and can be fatal within a short period of time. 

What Type Of Eagle Eats Snakes?

All species of eagles eat snakes even though it is not their main source of food. If they do not have access to their primary diet which involves fish and other small mammals, they will try to kill a snake if they come across it.

Of all the eagle species, the snake eagles from the family Accipitrid are the most specialized hunters of snakes in the eagle family.

This family consists of the Snake eagle, the Serpent eagle and the Bateleur. 

These three species of eagles are specially equipped to protect themselves from snake bites during attacks.

They have evolved their lower torso and feet to have thick scales which protect them from snake bites.

They can watch the snake for a long period, perched on a tree branch or in a high spot and when the chance comes they pounce on the snake and grab it with their talons.

They usually crush the head of the snake first with their powerful talons and then swallow it head first.

The brown – snake eagle is known for seeking out poisonous and dangerous snake species. It likes to consume its prey on the ground. 

Also check out this article on how do eagles sleep

Are Eagles Immune To Snake Venom?

Eagles are not immune to snake venom as the deadly spit of a poisonous snake like the cobra can cause serious injury to the bird’s system just like in any other mammal.

The eagles though are wise and smart.

They watch the snake for a long period before flying down fast to catch it. The snake literally doesn’t know what hit it.

To avoid being bitten by the snake, the eagle ensures it crushes its head first and once that it neutralizes it then swallows the snake head first.

If the eagle loses the element of surprise, it is always careful to not get bitten by the snake, if the powerful neurotoxin in the snake’s venom will attack the eagle’s nervous system and cause serious injury.

The bodies of the eagles offer them some protection from snake fangs, the snake and serpent eagles have thick scales on their feet which can deflect the fangs of most snakes.

Also, all eagles have thick heavy feathers.

Unfortunately for the snake, it’s fangs are slanted to the side to enable it to swallow.

This angle doesn’t make it easy for it to penetrate the eagle’s feathered armor causing it to be on the losing side most times.

The eagles’ system is also able to digest and process the poison that comes from ingesting the snake’s head.

It swallows the snake head first and then follows with the body. It is rare for an eagle to be bitten by a snake.

Do Eagles Eat Poisonous Snakes?

Eagles eat poisonous snakes, the snake and serpent eagles are a snake’s worst nightmare.

They will chase and hunt even the most dangerous and venomous snakes in the world including the mamba, garter snake, cobra and rattlesnake.

The eagles are safe once they are able to avoid the snake’s bite before killing it. Though the snake’s venom can cause serious problems to the bird’s nervous systems they usually ensure they do not get bitten.

In a battle between the two species the eagle would most often win and this is due to their speed, intelligence and agility.

This enables the eagle to subdue the snake before it can come up with a counter attack. The body of the eagle is also designed to protect it from the snake’s fangs.

After killing the snake, the eagle ingests the snake headfirst so it’s digestive system can neutralise the venom in the end and then continues to swallow the reptile.

Are Eagles Afraid Of Anything?

Eagles are basically top predators and are typically not afraid of anything. They are raptors and a large bird of prey, they have hunting weapons which makes them difficult to beat in a clash.

Most even in a battle for food or territory, the eagle usually comes on top. They are intelligent and cunning.

They watch their prey for sometime before diving in for the kill. In the skies, they are basically the king.

They hunt fishes, reptiles and smaller animals which they can carry comfortably to their perch.

They are not social with other animals and tend to keep to themselves. They have few vocalizations and usually are more vocal during mating season.

They are wary of humans like most birds and tend to avoid human contact. If their nest is constantly disturbed by human presence or activity they would most likely abandon that nest for a new location.


Eagles eating snakes probably sounds like an unlikely match but the brave eagles do hunt, kill and eat snakes even the most venomous snake species in the world.

All species of eagles can eat snakes however the snake and serpent eagles are well versed in hunting snakes.

Their bodies are designed to protect them from the snake fangs and bites. The eagle usually catches the snake by surprise and stuns it before it can attack.

This surprise attack is the eagles greatest weapon with snakes as it is not immune to snake venom and with these the eagle most often wins the battle.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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