Corn Snake eating mouse
© Allen Blake Sheldon
Never eat anything bigger than your head.
That’s just good advice. Unless you are a snake, of course.
It’s said that a snake can eat an item so large in relation to its own head that it would be the equivalent of a human swallowing a watermelon whole—and without using his hands. Anacondas, among the world’s largest snakes (a record-breaker was 28 feet long and 44 inches around), are said to be able to consume an adult human being!
Even if some ot these stories are a bit of stretch (sorry about that!), it’s clear that snakes can cnsume large objects quite regularly. So how do they do it?
Just about everybody on this planet seems to believe that snakes can unhinge their top and bottom jaws—this is not true. The remarkable thing about the snake jaw is that the two halves of the lower jaw are not connected at the front. This allows them to swing away from one another and to work independently to pull food into the muscular throat.
Besides their wide-opening jaws, snakes have a hard-cased skull in order to prevent brain damage from large thrashing animals clasped in their jaws. And perhaps most importantly, considering how long it takes to swallow a huge, mouth-filling living thing, they are able to shunt their respiratory tube to the side so they can still breathe, even with a chicken egg lodged in their throat.
Just one more example of how creatures have evolved abilities that let them thrive in the wild….
Have you encountered any snakes this year? There are often more around than you might think…..
As always, we love to hear your stories.