How do snakes kill their prey?

There are over 2700 species of the snakes, but they all use one of the three methods available to kill their prey before eating it.

Eating the prey alive; this is a method which is not impressive or eloquent, but in the end it is effective. The snake will overpower the prey and it will start to swallow it when it is still alive. Because the snakes have many backwards curved teeth when the prey is in the mouth, it will be impossible for it to escape and it will be swallowed. Examples of the snakes that use this method are grater snake, eastern indigo snake and eastern hognose snake.

Constricting the prey until it dies and then eats it: this is a popular method that snakes use to kill their prey. The snake will seize the prey animal in the mouth and it will coil on it and start to constrict. When the prey exhales, the snake will tighten its coils and this will prevent the prey from inhaling. This continues until the prey is completely dead. The snake like a boa constrictor can know when the victim’s heartbeat has stopped and this is when it will start to eat its meal. It is believed that the snake will crush the prey or will break the bones, but this is not what happens. The constriction will shut off the blood and oxygen that reaches the brain and heart, and this will lead to unconsciousness and death. When the artery pressure drops, the vein pressure will increase and the blood vessels will start to close. The heart will fail to pump more blood. Examples of the snakes that use this method are king snake, boa constrictor and ball python.

Envenoming the prey using deadly saliva: the final method that the snakes will use in order to subdue their prey before they eat them is to use their venom. The snakes will bite the animal through the skin and it will inject the saliva within the wound. The saliva is called venom and it causes a deadly reaction in the body of the prey and this will lead to death. It is not advised to keep a venomous snake without the right training since it may end up killing you. The venoms used are neurotoxins which affect the nervous system, and after seizing the nerve centers, they will often cause the breathing to stop. Cardiotoxins will deteriorate the muscle of the heart and it will make it stop beating. Hemotoxins will cause the blood vessels to rupture and it will result in widespread internal bleeding. The venom may include agglutinins that may clot the blood or anticoagulants that thin the blood. Some snakes will have different types of venom to kill the victim. The snakes that use this method are timber rattlesnake, black mambas and gaboon viper. There are some snakes that may use both venom and constriction to kill their prey. They are mussuranas and the western terrestrial snake.

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