Digestion and diet

June 21, 2007 9:28am CST
All snakes are carnivorous, eating small animals including lizards and other snakes, rodents and other small mammals, birds, eggs or insects. Some snakes have a venomous bite, which they use to kill their prey before eating it. Other snakes kill their prey by constriction. Still others swallow their prey whole and alive. Pareas iwesakii and other snail-eating Colubrids of subfamily Pareatinae have more teeth on the right side of their mouths than on the left, as the shells of their prey usually spiral clockwise[2]. Most snakes are very easy to feed in captivity. Snakes do not chew their food and have a very flexible lower jaw, the two halves of which are not rigidly attached, and numerous other joints in their skull (see snake skull), allowing them to open their mouths wide enough to swallow their prey whole, even if it is larger in diameter than the snake itself. It is a common misconception that snakes actually dislocate their lower jaw to consume large prey. After eating, snakes become torpid while the process of digestion takes place. Digestion is an intensive activity, especially after the consumption of very large prey. In species that feed only sporadically, the entire intestine enters a reduced state between meals to conserve energy, and the digestive system is 'up-regulated' to full capacity within 48 hours of prey consumption. So much metabolic energy is involved in digestion that in Crotalus durissus, the Mexican rattlesnake, an increase of body temperature to as much as 14 degrees Celsius above the surrounding environment has been observed.[3] Because of this, a snake disturbed after having eaten recently will often regurgitate its prey in order to be able to escape the perceived threat. However, when undisturbed, the digestive process is highly efficient, dissolving and absorbing everything but hair and claws, which are excreted along with uric acid waste. Snakes have been known to occasionally die from trying to swallow an animal that is too big. Snake digestive fluids are unable to digest most plant matter, which passes through the digestive system mostly untouched. Snakes do not normally prey on people, but there are instances of small children being eaten by large constrictors in the jungle.[citation needed] While some particularly aggressive species exist, most will not attack humans unless startled or injured, preferring instead to avoid contact. The majority of snakes are either non-venomous or possess venom that is not harmful to humans. As a general rule, snakes eat rodents. There are exceptions to this, such as the natal green snake, which eats insects. Snakes generally specialise in a few food types (for example, royal pythons will generally eat mice and gerbils in the wild). However, they do not need to hunt every day. A big meal will keep some snakes content for a long time. Anacondas and pythons can live for a year after eating large prey.(http://www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/snakes.html)
1 response
• United States
28 Jun 07
Another thing that most people do not know about snakes is that they cannot hear the human voice as they have no ears. They can however feel vibrations quit well through the ground. Some pit vipers can track their prey by the different temperature than the (mostly) rodents give off. There are even snakes that their main food source is other snakes. Snakes help man in the very way of eating rodents that eat our own food and keeping disease at bay (again by eating rodents that carry diseases that can infect humans and even kill us. We should leave then alone except when they (venomous ones) are living so close that it is almost impossible to keep from getting bit by one. If some garter snakes came into my house they would leave because there is not enough food for them to live here.