Tiger pythons are insatiable companions. They can swallow almost anything that comes their way – even deer and other large mammals. Are there limits to how much prey they can swallow? Recently, scientists have decided to ask this question.
Tiger pythons can reach 5.5 meters in length and 90 kg of weight. These are one of the largest pythons – and accordingly, they can eat large prey. Usually, pythons first suffocate the victim, and then swallow it whole, and they can eat almost anyone – from a rodent to a pig or a deer. Biologists from the University of Cincinnati decided to test how large prey tiger pythons can swallow. It turns out that the whole thing lies in how wide they can open their mouths.
Using 3D-printed plastic pipes, scientists tested the jaws of dead pythons. The mouth of one of the snakes was able to accommodate a pipe with a diameter of 22 centimeters. It was a python weighing 59 kg and about 4 meters long. “This tube is so big that you can probably put it on my head. Unfortunately, we were not able to study larger pythons, but according to our assumptions, some of them can fit an object with a diameter of 76 cm in their mouths,” the researcher said. and Professor Bruce Jane.
“The main feature of snakes is that they do not have any dislocation of the jaw while swallowing prey. Their joints are extremely mobile. Unlike human jaws, snakes consist of two parts, and between them there are strong connective tissues, skin and muscles,” the specialist continued. . In addition, scientists have found that not all types of snakes can open their mouths as wide as the tiger python. When biologists studied brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) – a species that also feeds on birds, lizards and small rodents – they found that these snakes can’t open their mouths that much. At the same time, they are about the same length as pythons – but much less in weight.
Just because pythons can open their mouths wide doesn’t mean their entire diet consists of large mammals, scientists say. Most often they eat small game – such as rabbits, foxes and raccoons. By the way, if a python still dine on a deer or a goat, he can live without food for about a month. The team of scientists from Cincinnati plans to continue to study the features of pythons and other snakes in order to make new discoveries.
Source: – translated specially for fishki.net
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