What is the way a snake eats?
Snakes are incredibly dangerous creatures. While not all snakes are venomous, those that contain venom are able to kill their prey with it. Because there is such a wide variety of snakes, they can depict a wide variety of behavioral habits. One of the most interesting and seldom discussed habits of snakes is how they eat.
Despite the differences between snake species, eating is typically handled the same in all of them. Snakes have incredible jaws that are able to unhinge and expand to a much larger size. This allows them to prey on animals that are much larger than themselves by swallowing them whole.
In humans and many other animals, the upper half of the jaw is fused to the rest of the skull. This makes it unable to move. In snakes, however, the upper jaw is attached to its skull by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This allows it a wider range of movement. This allows front-to-back and side-to-side mobility.
Their upper jaw connects to their lower jaw by something called the quadrate bone. This bone acts as a double-jointed hinge, allowing the lower jaw to dislocate and open as wide as 150 degrees.
Once a snake is ready to eat its prey, it will open its mouth wide and begin to move its lower jaw over the prey. Its backward-curving teeth will grip the animal so that it can easily pull the animal further into its mouth. During this process, the snake will drench its prey in saliva and eventually draw the entire animal into its esophagus.
From here, the snake will use its muscles to crush the prey while pushing it deeper into its digestive tract. It is here that it will be broken down for nutrients. Capturing and eating live prey in this manner can be extremely dangerous for the snake. This is why some have developed the ability to produce venom. This venom will subdue or kill the prey so that the snake has a safer and easier time while eating. This venom is injected by hollow teeth at the front of a snake’s mouth called fangs. These fangs are connected to a special venom duct that runs from the back of the roof of their mouth to the tip of the fangs.