by Kyrstie Waters
(last updated April 29, 2009)
Snakes are interesting creatures. What they eat depends on many different factors including species, size, growth and habitat. Some snakes prefer warm-blooded prey and eat only small rodents or birds. Other snakes eat other reptiles, fish, insects, spiders, worms and many more.
Small snakes eat smaller prey. The smaller the snake, the smaller the prey will be. These smaller snakes will eat earthworms, fish, tadpoles, small frogs, and small rodents. Insects are generally too hard for a small snake to digest because of their hard outer shell. Larger snakes will eat larger pretty such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chicken, and quail. Some very large snakes can eat small antelope! Wow!
Some snakes prefer to eat other snakes. The King Snake and the King Cobra are two snakes that prey on other snakes. It is easy for these snakes to swallow another snake because their bodies are shaped the same. The King Cobra snake is the largest venomous snake in the world. It mostly preys on other snakes, while the King Snake preys on other animals such as rodents.
When it comes to snakes, it is "eat or be eaten." A snake will usually only eat prey that is smaller than itself. Most snakes eat only once a week or twice a month, depending on the availability of food. Some snakes have a deadly venom that they use to kill their prey by biting into them. Venomous snakes have two hollow teeth for allowing the venom to pass through their teeth and into their prey.
All snakes are carnivores and swallow their food whole. Snakes can swallow their food even when it is bigger than their head, even bigger than their body! They usually swallow their prey head-first, by expanding their jaw until it completely covers their prey. Their jaw unhooks from its joints to allow it to expand to the width of their prey. A snake's skin stretches easily to allow room for the food to make its long journey to the stomach.
Snakes are extraordinary creatures. No other reptile is quite like the snake, so they are amazing to learn about. The way that these limbless creatures can survive in the wild, how they prey, how they swallow their food, and even how they defend themselves are all very unique and fascinating facts.
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