You would be hard-pressed to find two snakes that evoke more fear than the black mamba and the king cobra.

Both species are so venomous that they can easily kill a human, and, they both grow to over ten feet in length. But, when it comes to the differentiation between the black mamba vs king cobra, how do you tell the difference?

In this article, we’ll learn the exact differences between black mambas and king cobras. To do this, we’ll go over each species’ size, appearance, location and habitat, behavior, diet, and lifespan. By the end, you’ll be able to tell black mambas from king cobras, and you’ll know exactly what makes each species unique.

Keep reading to learn more about black mambas and king cobras.

Comparing Black Mamba vs King Cobra

Black Mamba King Cobra
Size 6-14 feet long; 5-10 pounds 10-18 feet long; 15-20 pounds
Appearance Gray to dark brown body with a pale belly and black inside of the mouth. Has a small hood that flattens when threatened Ranges from black or dark brown to yellow or green. Babies are black with white markings
Location and Habitat Sub-Saharan Africa; lives in rocky hillsides, savannahs, grasslands, and woodlands. Prefers to stay near freshwater Southeastern Asia; frequents mangrove swamps, forests, bamboo forests, and the edges of farmlands
Behavior Non-aggressive, but capable of biting multiple times when threatened Only bites when threatened; females guard eggs until hatching
Lifespan 10-15 years 15-20 years


Key Differences Between Black Mamba vs King Cobra

Black mambas are smaller than king cobras by several feet. The king cobra lives in India and Southeastern Asia, while the black mamba makes its home in sub-Saharan Africa. Both species have extremely potent venom, and both are responsible for many human deaths every year. King cobras have impressive hoods, while black mambas have no hood.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the key differences between the black mamba vs king cobra.

Black Mamba vs King Cobra: Size and Weight

When it comes to the black mamba vs king cobra, length is everything. Both species are exceptionally long snakes, but only one can be the longest venomous snake in the world. That’s the king cobra. A true monster among snakes, it can grow to nearly twenty feet long. The black mamba is no small fry either, though it’s not quite as impressive as the king cobra. Black mambas can reach up to 14 feet in length.

The king cobra isn’t just longer than the black mamba, it’s heavier too. Black mambas generally weigh less than ten pounds, while the king cobra can weigh up to twenty pounds. King cobras are heavy snakes, much heavier than the black mamba.

Black Mamba vs King Cobra: Location and Habitat

Black mambas and king cobras live on entirely different continents. The black mamba lives in parts of south and east Africa in sub-Saharan areas. In contrast, the king cobra lives in India, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Locally, the black mamba vs king cobra lives in distinct habitats. Black mambas prefer woodlands, hilly areas, savannas, and grasslands. They don’t like to stray too far from freshwater, and at night they prefer sleeping in hollow trees or empty burrows. King cobras stick mostly to forested areas, mangrove swamps, bamboo forests, and the edges of agricultural zones. King cobras spend much of their time in trees and bushes.

Black Mamba vs King Cobra: Appearance

When it comes to the appearance of the black mamba vs king cobra, the biggest difference is in the king cobra’s hood. Black mambas lack a large hood, what they do have is a pitch-black mouth. The king cobra has one of the largest hoods of all snakes, while black mambas sport only a small, narrow hood.

In terms of coloring, the only part of the black mamba that’s actually black is its mouth. The rest of the black mambas’ body ranges from gray to brown, with a light belly. King cobras tend to be darker brown or black, with white or yellow crossbars, and markings on the undersides of their hoods.

Black Mamba vs King Cobra: Behavior

Despite their differences, black mambas and king cobras share many behaviors. Both species lay eggs, rather than give birth to live young. Female black mambas lay their eggs in underground burrows, and female king cobras actually build nests for their eggs.

When it comes to the black mamba vs king cobra diets, both hunt rodents, and small mammals, as well as other snakes.

Black Mamba vs King Cobra: Lifespan

King cobras have been known to live up to 20 years in the wild, while black mambas live up to 15 years. In captivity, they may live even longer.