Did You Know?
All snakes are carnivorous.
There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world and there is at least one type of snake on every continent except Antarctica. While the snake has a bad rap as a pest, snakes can often be quite helpful and even a fun pet.
With so many different species, there are snakes of many different sizes. The world's smallest snake, according to National Geographic, is the thread snake, which grows to only about 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) long. It looks much like an earthworm. The largest snake, the reticulated python, can grow to a whopping 30 feet (9 meters). The largest snake fossil ever discovered is called the Titanoboa. This creature lived 60 million years ago and would have been 50 feet (15 meters) long.
Snakes are carnivores. This means that they only eat meat. Snakes are often seen as pests, but they actually can help keep pests at bay by eating rodents.
Many people think that all snakes kill their prey by biting it and injecting the prey with poison. This isn't true. Cobras, vipers and other related species are the only snakes that use venom to hunt.
Most snakes simply swallow their prey whole. Large snakes, such as the python, will strangle their prey to death and then swallow it whole. Snakes can eat other animals 75 to 100 percent bigger than their own size, according to National Geographic. They have been known to eat animals such as crocodiles and cows. To fit the large prey into their mouth, the snake's jaw will unhinge.
Once the animal is inside, the snake's body releases enzymes to break the food down into useable energy. Snakes don't need to eat as often as other animals because they have a very slow metabolism rate. King cobras, for example, can live for months without food.
Sometimes, though, eating a live animal can result in disaster. Snakes have been known to explode after eating a living animal, though it is not known why.