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Snakes are carnivores, which means they will eat only meat including each other. Some snakes are hunters while others will lie in waiting to ambush their prey. They can be very sneaky and will try to trick their victims into coming to them! The Cantil snake, for example, has a bright yellow tip on its tail to look like a worm. Boy, won’t the bird be surprised when it finds out it isn’t a worm that it bit! Desert living snakes will hide under the sand and wait for something yummy to wander by.
The smallest of all snakes, the Thread snake, eats the pupae, or eggs, of ants and centipedes. The largest snakes, the Pythons and Anacondas, have been known to eat, deer and pigs! Most snakes live off of insects, rodents, birds, eggs, fish, frogs, lizards and small mammals.
All snakes swallow their food whole. While they do have teeth, the teeth are made for grabbing, hooking and holding their prey, not chewing. Constrictors will grab and hold their prey while wrapping their bodies around the victim and slowly “constricting” or tightening their coils until they squeeze the last breath out of their prey and the heart stops. Cobras, Vipers, Rattlesnakes, and other venomous snakes will maim or paralyze their prey by sinking their fangs into it before swallowing it.
Have you ever wondered how a snake can swallow such big meals without chewing? Snakes have powerful muscles all along the front half of their bodies. Snakes use these muscles for moving as well as swallowing. The muscles move the food down along the throat and into the snake’s long stomach. Moving the food through the throat into the stomach can take 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the animal they are eating.
Believe it or not, some snakes only need to eat a couple times a year!