How do snakes eat?

Snakes are carnivorous animals, meaning that they eat other creatures. Although different snakes have different ways of hunting and catching their prey, all eat in the same way. Their incredible expanding jaws allow them to eat animals much larger than they are, and it their jaw is the reason they can swallow prey completely. Snakes are unable to chew their food because of their tiny frail teeth, so they must swallow their food whole. To accomplish this trick nature has given the snake a jaw that is constructed in such a way that it “unhinges”. This allows the mouth to open extra wide for larger prey. In human beings (and most other animals), our upper jaw is fused to the top of our skull or cranium and is unable to move independent of our heads. A snake's upper jaw however is fastened to its braincase with a specialized group of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These allow it “front-to-back” and “side-to-side” movement. The snake’s lower jaw hooks to the upper jaw with the help of the quadrate bone. This unique bone acts like a double-jointed hinge allowing the lower jaw to actually dislocate, and open the snake’s mouth as wide as 150 degrees.

The snake can also move its side jaws move independently of each other. To eat, it opens its mouth wiggles the lower jaw around its food. Its hook like teeth hold the animal as one side of its mouth sucks up the prey and the other side takes a bite. Its mouth can crush and eat the food at the same time, preparing it for digestion. Once in the stomach, it is attacked by digestive enzymes and gastric acids designed to break the tissue down. Their prey is then digested over an extended period of time the warmer the snake’s body is, the faster the food is digested. Depending on the size of the snake, their meals could take from 3 days up to 3 weeks for it to digest. With Venomous snakes, the digestive process can begin as soon as the prey is injected.

A Snakes diet consists of rodents, birds and their eggs, frogs and other amphibians, and small mammals some types of snakes eat insects or earthworms as well. Huge snakes (15 ft or larger) have been known to consume pigs, deer, calves, monkeys, dogs, and other large prey. The Kingsnake will actually consume other types of snake.

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How do snakes eat?

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