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Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

How Do Snakes Eat?

How Do Snakes Eat?

All snakes eat meat, that is, they’re zoophagous. Snakes are carnivorous reptiles. Large snakes eat large animals. Small ones eat small ones. The smallest snakes eat insects and other invertebrates.

They swallow animals whole, and sometimes alive. A snake’s sharp teeth are not for chewing but for holding the prey tightly and pulling it down the snake’s throat.

A snake’s jaw is loosely hinged so it can stretch very wide. The snake can swallow an animal that is even bigger than its own head. The rest of its body can stretch, too, so the meal can fit inside.

Many snakes simply grab their victims and swallow them. Poisonous snakes kill their prey first with a poisonous bite. Rats, mice, lizards, and frogs are favorite foods of snakes.

Most snakes eat rodents or birds after either killing them with venom or squeezing them to death in constricting coils.

Having killed its prey (either by suffocation, in the case of constrictors, or with venom in the case of venomous species), a snake will pull it into the mouth by hooking its sharp, backward-facing teeth into its victim and ‘walking’ its jaws over it.

The skin and stomach are stretchy enough to allow the snake to ingest large prey items, and the glottis can protrude from the mouth so that it can continue breathing whilst its throat is full with the food being swallowed.

Prey is usually swallowed head-first, so that the limbs, fur, feathers, etc. lie flat against the body and make the process easier.

Content for this question contributed by Bernadette Arlington, resident of Hayward, Alameda County, California, USA