Predator vs. predator: mongoose and giant viper fight to bitter end | Watch

Photographer captures raw survival battle in Kibbutz Nir David in which mongoose emerges victorious; Nature and Parks Authority ecologist says mongoose's nervous system resistant to snake venom

Mongoose versus viper
(Video: Raz Einhorn)

Photographer Raz Einhorn captured a rare moment through his lens: a mongoose and a large viper engaged in a fierce battle to the death near Kibbutz Nir David in northern Israel.
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Einhorn would see a large viper snake emerging near his workplace at a fish farm in Kibbutz Nir David. One morning, he spotted a mongoose nearing the snake's lair and quickly decided to use his cell phone to capture the encounter. To his astonishment, he witnessed the mongoose engaging in combat with the snake, ultimately seizing it for its breakfast.
2 View gallery
קרב בין נמייה לנחש צפע, מול המצלמה
קרב בין נמייה לנחש צפע, מול המצלמה
Mongoose kills and eats viper
(Photo: Raz Einhorn)
The Nature and Parks Authority said that the viper is one of Israel's nine venomous snake species, most of which live in the desert area, while it is common throughout the Mediterranean area.
Its venom glands are located in the back of the skull and give the head a characteristic triangular structure. A tube runs from the viper's venom glands to its teeth, which are automatically pulled out when the viper opens its mouth. The snake's teeth are hollow and function similarly to a syringe. When the viper sinks its teeth, it injects its venom into its prey.
The venom paralyzes or kills the prey depending on its size and the amount of venom injected. Its venom is comprised of different proteins, including enzymes that break down the prey's tissues and start the digestive process.
The Asian grey mongoose, which can be found in Israel, is a small terrestrial carnivorous mammal belonging to the family Herpestidae.
2 View gallery
נחש צפע
נחש צפע
Viper, one of nine venomous snakes found in Israel
(Photo:Gad Tom Ohayon)
The mongoose sports a gray-brown coat with its legs and tail being darker than its body. Its diet predominantly includes birds, fruits, vegetables, small mammals, insects, and as can be seen in the video, reptiles too.
Nature and Parks Authority ecologist Dotan Rotem said that mongooses are renowned for their ability to confront snakes, including venomous species like vipers. Molecular research has revealed that mongoose nervous systems possess receptors immune to snake venom's paralyzing effects, affording them resistance.
Beyond their prowess in snake handling, mongooses are valuable for natural pest control, particularly in eliminating rodents. Globally, mongooses are also kept as pets to protect homes from snakes.
"In Israel, the mongoose is legally protected. To minimize the use of agricultural poisons, it's advised to create openings in plantation fences for mongooses and other small predators. This natural approach controls pests and prevents secondary poisoning from improper rodenticide use," he added.
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