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Pet Snakes provides easy to understand, practical information and facts to help the new snake owner take care of their animals. At Pet Snakes we want to provide information that will help you enjoy your reptile more than ever.

Three ways snakes kill and eat their prey

Even though there are approximately 2700 species of snakes in the world they only kill their prey in three different ways. We’ve included 3 examples of each of the three ways snakes kill and eat. In some of the videos you’ll notice the prey is already dead (frozen thawed) while in others the snake has to hunt it and kill it. Regardless if the prey is alive or dead you will see the snake going through the process of capturing and killing it. For some people the following videos will be disturbing. They show snakes killing and eating other animals.

Eating their prey alive
This method is neither eloquent nor impressive, but it is effective. These snakes simply overpower their prey and start swallowing it alive. Due to the fact that snakes have hundreds of backwards curved teeth once the prey is in the snakes mouth it is all but impossible for it to escape being swallowed.

  • Garter Snake (genus Thamnophis) eating minnows:



  • Eastern Indigo Snake (genus Drymarchon couperi) swallowing FT pinkie headfirst:



  • Eastern Hognose Snake (genus Heterodon platirhinos) catching and eating an American Toad



Constricting their prey to death and then eating
With the popularity in the pet trade of medium to large sized constrictors this is the most widely known and observed method a snake uses to kill its prey. The snake seizes the prey animal with its mouth, throws some coils around it and then begins to constrict. When the prey exhales the snake tightens the coils preventing the prey from inhaling. This continues until the prey is dead. It was recently discovered that Boa Constrictors can sense that the heartbeat of the prey has stopped at which point it will begin the process of eating the meal.

  • King Snake (gensu Lampropeltis getula californiae) catching and constricting a mouse


  • Boa Constrictor (genus Boa constrictor constrictor) killing a rat


  • Ball Python (genus ) constricting a frozen thawed mouse


Envenoming their prey with deadly saliva
The final method snakes use to subdue their prey in order to eat it is envenomation. The snake bites through the skin of the prey and injects saliva into the wound. This saliva is known as venom and causes a deadly reaction in the prey animal’s body which leads to death. Please do not attempt to keep venomous snakes of any kind without the proper training. One mistake is likely to kill you.

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