How Do Snakes Get Food?


Quick Answer

Snakes catch their prey by using their well-developed senses to detect vibrations, heat, chemical signals and movement. Snakes need to swallow their food whole, as their teeth are not made for chewing but for capturing and grasping prey.

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Full Answer

Snakes have an inner ear and no outer ear, but they can identify movement through vibrations on the ground that get transmitted through their jawbones. Vibrations allow them to recognize the location of their potential prey. While snakes typically don’t have a keen distance vision, their eyes are capable of quickly detecting movement.

Some snakes, pit vipers, are also equipped with sensitive heat pits that enable them to detect prey using thermal changes. The pits can quickly distinguish the presence of heat in the surroundings, even when it’s completely dark. Other snakes have several tiny pits below the scales of their lips that detect temperature changes. They can also locate their prey by interpreting the chemical signals produced by the animals. They can obtain the chemical information or scent of their prey by flicking their tongues in and out.

The carnivorous reptiles usually feed on insects, birds, eggs, frogs and small mammals. Some species consume deer, pigs and even other snakes. Some hunt for food, while others ambush their prey. Snakes can swallow their food whole because they can disarticulate their jaws, and the front half of their bodies is lined with strong muscles.

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