In a battle between a hawk and a snake, who wins? Some Redditors think they can answer that question thanks to a shocking moment a photographer caught at just the right moment.
In a picture posted on Twitter by Nature is Lit we can see a snake coiling around a hawk in an attempt to crush it—just after the bird went in for the kill. The hawk stands with its wings spread, ready for flight, as it focuses on piercing its talons through the snake’s neck.
The post gave no information about either of the animal’s fates. But the photo quickly made it to Reddit where people discussed how the story must have ended. And almost everyone agreed that the snake became dinner.
“The fight is already over,” wrote solomoncaine7.
“Yeah, any time my birds hit snakes this is what it looks like. Bird flies in, grabs the back of the head, snake flips out until the stop button is hit,” added HotgunColdheart. “Snakes aren’t much of a threat, squirrels can bite a toe off easily.”
Hawks Natually Hunt Small to Mid-Sized Snakes
And the users were likely correct when guessing that the bird of prey came out the victor. Hawks are natural predators of serpents. And they instinctually know how to capture their slithering meals without being injured or killed in the process.
According to a specialist with Only Zoology, red-tailed hawks and cooper’s hawks are the most common snake eaters. And they’ll feast on both venomous and non-venomous species.
While the birds will not attempt to pick up a large snake, they will swoop down for smaller to mid-sized varieties that they can carry while in flight.
In many cases, the bird can swoop down and kill its prey with its talons before the victim even knows what happened. But the bigger, stronger snakes like the one pictured, unfortunately, suffer a longer death.
“Snakes that don’t die so easily will be soon suffocated to death when grabbed in the hawk’s forceful fists,” writes Ronit Dey, who holds a B.S. in Zoology.
Dey adds that if that doesn’t work, the hawk will use its strong, hooked beak to pierce the base of the snake’s neck.
The writer also notes that the birds have impeccable vision, and they can easily determine if a snake is too strong or too venomous to fight. So it’s rare that a hawk would ever find itself in a fight that it can’t win.
When a hawk does become the victim, it’s because they are young and too inexperienced to plan accordingly. The expert says that an experienced bird will waste no time in breaking the neck to ensure it can’t bite. If a hawk gives a venomous snake the chance to sink its fangs, the venom will kill the attacker.