Slithering in the Indian rainforest, a snake lurks in the shadows. Its venomous bite can take down humans with a single strike. In one corner of the ring, we have the king cobra. And on the other side of the ring, we have the cobra’s bitter rival, the mongoose. It’s one of the most confident and agile creatures in the animal kingdom. These long-standing enemies are about to meet for the ultimate grudge match.
Cobra and mongoose
Before we go any further, let’s talk about mongooses in general. Have you ever seen a mongoose? There are 29 species of them, and not all of them look the same. They are all, however, long-bodied, short-eared weasley-looking animals, some of which attack and eat venomous snakes. They aren’t very closely related to weasels, though — if you’re an animal in the order Carnivora, the order of mammals that are mostly carnivorous and have teeth adapted for flesh eating, you can either be on Team Dog or Team Cat. Weasels are related to dogs and, however much mongooses look like weasels, they are firmly on Team Cat. (In fact, a meerkat is a mongoose — “cat” is right there in its name!)
Mongooses are colonial animals, meaning they live in colonies, and most species live in Africa, although one species, the Javan mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), has been introduced to Europe and has also wreaked havoc in ecosystems all over the world — especially on islands like Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Although mongooses are small, they’re bright, feisty and are what scientists call “nondiscriminatory predators.” If they can catch it or kill it, they’ll eat it — and an animal like that can do a lot of damage on an island.
But how can it be that a skinny mongoose can take on one of the most venomous snakes in the world — like the hulking king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), whose venom can kill an adult human in around 30 minutes? The grudge match that was popularized in Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 short story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is a mystifying one, but a few specialized traits have allowed mongooses to add venomous snakes to their list of entrées.
For starters, mongooses are quick and agile, and have strong jaws and thick hides to block those scary cobra fangs. They also don’t mind rushing a cobra, which is, in spite of its size and extravagantly toxic venom, actually very shy and uninterested in tangling with anybody. Combative humans and mongooses are at the very top of a king cobra’s “Avoid” list.
But then chemistry gets involved. It’s not impossible for a mongoose to get sick or even die from a cobra bite, but mongooses make a glycoprotein that binds to the protein in the venom so a moderate amount of snake venom won’t hurt them.
The fight between cobra, squirrel and mongoose
After a lone, female squirrel approaches a cobra from behind, a snake bite causes her to retreat from battle. But soon, a yellow mongoose steps up and tries to finish the battle with this highly venomous cobra. Mongooses and snakes are each other’s deadliest opponents. When they face off, the outcome is utterly unpredictable.
When we got closer we saw that the ground squirrels were trying to keep the Cape cobra away from their underground burrows, where they raise their young. The squirrels took turns constantly attacking the cobra from different angles.” Ground squirrels across the globe are known for their snake-taunting tendencies. Research conducted in California found that squirrels use their fluffy tails to help see off rattlesnakes. The tail-flagging displays may serve as a warning to snakes that the squirrels are vigilant and ready to dodge an attack.
In this case, however, they received a helping hand from a yellow mongoose that entered the fray, at which point “the ground squirrels took a rest and watched from the side as the mongoose had its moment to defend and attack,” de Matos recalled. Mongooses – armed with a handy resistance to the cobra’s otherwise deadly bites – will readily take on these snakes and other venomous species. It’s unclear if the mongoose was actively trying to make a meal of the cobra or if it simply wanted the snake out of its territory, but either way the vicious onslaught worked. As soon as a gap became available, the cobra slithered to the safety of a nearby burrow
In the video below, you can see
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Video resource : Latest Sightings