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Old 03-13-2002, 05:42 PM
Contender Contender is offline
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska,USA
Posts: 253
Do Snakes Swallow Their Young For Protection?

You always hear that it is an old wives tale that snakes swallow their young to protect them, I don't know if it is or not? When I was about 15 years old I saw a non poisonous water snake on the river bank. Being a kid I did what most kids do and grabbed a stick and hit it. It was slithering through the grass and I smacked it across the back as it was trying to get away. It wasn't dead of course but seriously wounded. At this point it opened it's mouth and 5 or 6 small snakes crawled out of it's mouth very much alive. Did this snake just eat some baby snakes or was it protecting it's young? I have always wondered about this but never talked to anyone in the know about it? I believe they give birth to live young but even if I damaged something internallyallowing the young to come out of the mother's mouth the babies would be in sacs and not developed to the point of crawling away. I lean toward the snake just eating those babies as I came upon her.
Old 03-14-2002, 12:36 AM
foto foto is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: metro NY-NJ
Posts: 180
Definitely an old wives tale. Snakes that eat other snakes like kingsnakes are egg layers. Water snakes like garter snakes give birth to live young and don't eat other snakes(maybe yours was an exception). Your probably right in thinking the snake you hit was about ready to give birth when you wacked it, causing some internal damage that allowed the snakes to come out the mouth. I believe snakes are rather primitive in that they use the same opening, cloaca?, for waste and reproduction thus the two systems are actually connected and thus maybe possible for snakes to travel out the mouth if you really damaged it. A big maybe. As for staying in their mothers stomach, forget about that since their stomach acids are capable of digesting bones and whole animals so it probably isn't a very good place to hide and they aren't known for their maternal instincts. hope it helps.
Old 03-14-2002, 10:52 AM
Hunter333's Avatar
Hunter333 Hunter333 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Muskegon, MI USA
Posts: 9
I would tend to lead that the large snake was birthing when you unmercilously whacked it. Sorry, had to throw that part in...... As a boa constrictor owner and all around snake person, I have never come accross facts about a snake swallowing their young in order to protect them. As stated, the acid in a snakes stomach is so acidic that nothing would last long in there. Interesting post!
ONE shot, ONE kill..No excuses, no exceptions...... EVER!!!!
Old 03-14-2002, 12:04 PM
ben-t ben-t is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: W. PA
Posts: 195

I know that a certain fish hold their young in their mouths for protection, but as you can imagine the size of their mouth in relation to the size of their young would allow this. As previously mentioned, for a snake to do the same it would have to swallow its' young. That might be a problem?

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