Interspecies Conflict/past vs present


hi there bk.if the giant snake the titanoboa lived today do you think there are any predators that could possibly beat it?land and water.thanks bk

Hello Chris.

Titanoboa is famous for being the largest snake known to exist.  Its length has been estimated at well over 40ft long and its weight at over 2500lbs.  This is over twice as long as a green anaconda and around 8 times as heavy (estimates of the anaconda reaching 550lb are probably unfounded).  A constrictor the size of Titanoboa would be a fearsome creature.  Here's how it would stack up against today's predators:

On land: No predator of today would have been able to attack and successfully defeat Titanoboa on every occasion, but a couple would make a decent fight of it.  Here are the ones that would have the best chance to win:

Polar bear/Kodiak bear: These are the only predators that would pose any real threat to a Titanoboa.  This would be similar to a sun bear trying to tackle a green anaconda.  The bear would have to stun the serpent with some well-placed paw strikes to the head or hold the head still so the jaws could attempt to crush the skull.  If the bear instinctively attacks the head, it chances might rise above 50/50.  If it attacks a random part of Titanoboa's body, it will run the risk of the snake's jaws latching on and the huge coils being pulled around it.  The bear will still have a chance to claw and bite its way to freedom, but it is doomed once several coils tighten around it.  The fact that the snake will be very sluggish on land bodes well for the bears.  A long, drawn-out fight would certainly favor the bears.  Either bear will win about half the time.  A grizzly bear has a chance to win as well, but not as good of a chance as the larger bears.

Lion/Tiger: These cats will have the advantage it agility & mobility, but they will be hard-pressed to finish a constrictor weighing almost 5 times their weight.  This fight will be akin to an Arabian leopard taking on a green anaconda.  The cat would have to immediately attack the skull in an attempt to crush it before Titanoboa latches onto them with a bite.  The snake's head will be larger than a beer keg, and the lion/tiger will likely be overpowered once the jaws lock on.  The cats have a chance to win, but it is small.

Crocodile: A crocodile might win if it catches the skull in its jaws, but that kind of precision is unlikely.  Any other bite on the snake will cause limited damage, and the crocodile will be gape-limited.  Crocodiles are also sluggish on land, and don't have the ability to escape once a heavier boa wraps it up.  The crocodile's chances are no better than the lion/tiger.

In water:

No land predator would be able to enter the water (shallow or deep) and have a good chance against Titanoboa.  Any victory by any of them would be a massive fluke.  There are, however, animals that live in the water that might have a decent chance if they crossed paths with Titanoboa.  Here is a list of some of them:

Killer whale: Killer whales weigh more than African elephants, and have huge jaws with massive teeth.  The Titanoboa would have no way to realistically subdue the orca, and would succumb to the killer whale's bite.

Sperm whale: This whale can weigh more than 50 Titanoboas.  Its lower jaw is filled with 8-inch teeth.  The Titanoboa would be out of its league here.

Great white shark: The shark would likely have a decent maneuverability advantage over Titanoboa, and could weigh twice as much.  The bite of the shark would cause serious damage to the boa, and the shark could probably bite it several times before the coils posed any danger.  I would favor a great white shark in this contest.  Other sharks, like the tiger shark, would need to weigh the same or almost the same as Titanoboa to be favored (and they regularly don't get that big).

Crocodile: The advantages a crocodile gains from going from land to water are the same ones a boa enjoys.  Titanoboa would only lose if its skull gets crushed in the croc's jaws.  A huge crocodile weighing the same as Titanoboa would have a chance, but most top-end crocodiles will lose most of the time.

Swordfish/Sawfish: These 2 fish would have the maneuverability advantage, and their weapons (sharp bill; rostrum) could injure the Titanoboa.  They are only half the weight of the snake, however, and if they were coiled they would be in trouble.  Their agility in the water and weaponry would give them a chance to prevail more times than not.

Walrus: The walrus would be able to seriously wound the Titanoboa with a direct jab of its tusks, but it would not be able to do this with consistent precision.  However, if the Titanoboa wrapped its coils around the walrus, its robustness would prevent a quick suffocation.  Probably closer to a stalemate than anything else.

Elephant seal: The seal will weigh 3 times as much as the snake, and have comparable mobility.  The Titanoboa will have trouble squeezing this huge animal, and an accumulation of bites from the seal's jaws will cause damage.  The snake can kill it with the right positioning of its coils, but the more likely result is the large mammal coming out on top.

Giant squid: The squid will weigh less than half of Titanoboa, but its long tentacles will be somewhat problematic to the snake at the onset.  The much stronger boa will eventually get the position it wants, and crush the mantle with its coils.  The beak of the squid will cause nasty wounds, but its lack of comparative speed will spell its doom.

Leopard seal: This very aggressive, agile, & active predator has a large set of jaws & teeth, but it only weighs 1/3rd of Titanoboa.  It will swim around the snake, attempting to deliver multiple bites, but the snake will likely strike and secure its jaws on the seal.  Unless the leopard seal can struggle free or counter-attack with effective bites, it will be doomed.

Electric eel: This is a reach, but the eel can use its 600+ volts to repel the huge boa.  This will affect Titanoboa, but it likely won't stop it from continuing its attack.  One bite from the Titanoboa will end this fight instantly.

Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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