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   xoxoxoBruce  Friday Apr 7 12:11 AM

Apr 7th, 2017: Better to be the King

Better to be the Kingsnake anyway, because you’d be like the “Raging Bull” of the small snakes.

Professional fighters have weight classes for a reason: no matter how adept the smaller fighter is, a much bigger one will
probably have some sort of advantage. But size is rarely an issue in the snake world if a kingsnake is competing—and the
little snake usually eats the bigger snake. So there’s that.

A pair of American researchers wanted to know how these little snakes, only a few feet long, could feast on snakes
sometimes 120 percent their size, especially since both the kingsnake and the larger snakes they might prey on use the
same killing technique. The jury’s still out, but the answer is probably in their coils.

The researchers still don’t know for sure what makes the kingsnakes such great killers. But the only noticeable difference
between them and ratsnakes was the amount of pressure the snakes exerted on their prey and in the way their bodies
arranged in coil, according to the research published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology. “The kingsnakes
are little brutes,” he said. “They’re just stronger than other snakes.
They use that elegant and simplified parallel body loop. Rat snakes are variable and haphazard in their body application.”

It's my brother's birthday so I thought this post would be appropriate.

They cut a bunch of these snakes open and could find no difference in the muscle structure, so they think the Kingsnakes prowess
is in technique. It's like the ladies have been saying all along, it ain't what you got, it's what you do with it.


Snakeadelic  Friday Apr 7 09:02 AM

I've kept both of the species in the "Ratsnakes" pic! The left is a Four-Lined Rat Snake, a species I always found to be twitchy and nippy. The right is a Miami phase Corn Snake; my heart pet was an Okeetee Corn Snake, which is not a separate species. The colors differ, though--Okeetees, which are native to a small area of North Carolina, are vivid orange with red-orange saddles. The only snake I have now is a 17-year-old snow morph Corn. Snows are lacking 2 of the 3 pigments found in the species, which are red, black, and yellow. Snows have only the yellow, although they still appear saddle-patterned because of differences in scale structure making them look white with pink in place of black.

I'd keep a Kingsnake someday, maybe, if it was the right kind AND I had no other snakes. Kings are absolute terrors in mixed-species collections. I've read SO MANY stories that boil down to "I came home from work and my $50 California Kingsnake got loose and ate my $300 rare morph (any other snake)." My choice would of species would probably be Sinaloan (red with skinny black-bordered white rings around the body), Gray-Banded, or Mexican Black (starts out with red, black, and white markings, gradually darkens to solid black with maturity).

Also, so far as I'm aware, it is NOT a myth that California and other western US Kingsnake species are resistant--though not completely immune--to rattlesnake venom. Many Kingsnakes preferentially hunt and eat other snakes in the wild, rattlers included. That neat tidy coil arrangement works really well, especially if it's opened up a little between each coil, for throttling other snakes!

Snakes eating snakes happens all over the world, though a surprisingly few nature nuts seem to realize this. Heck, one of the scariest snakes in the world is Ophiophagus hannah, and the first half of that Latin name is "Ophio" (snake) + "phagus" (eater of something specific).

Here's O. hannah in the process of snacking on a ball python.

And if you can't quite place the face, here's one being its usual enormous, highly venomous, generally terrifying self:

I'm not sure how a Kingsnake would stack up against O. hannah, the King Cobra, mostly because Kingsnakes (genus Lampropeltis) are adapted to deal with rattlesnake venom, which is hemotoxic--it destroys tissue and travels in the bloodstream. Cobras belong to the Elapid family, which also includes many Australian natives and some if not most sea snakes, and cobras have neurotoxic venom--it shuts down electrical impulses and although it can travel via the bloodstream it does the most damage by also being able to hitchhike nerve tissue. Once upon a time in the 1980s, one of the world's premiere cobra experts--who had the huge occupational hazard of being allergic to anti-venom--got bitten by a king cobra during an interview, while he was attempting to milk it for venom to produce anti-venom with. It grabbed his middle finger, he whipped around right in front of the interviewer, grabbed a knife, and took off his own finger at the hand joint before the snake even thought about letting go. Still died in the ambulance due to respiratory arrest caused by the venom. Some neurotoxic venom can be overcome if the bite victim is kept on respiratory support until the body processes the venom out, but those are rare cases.

And yeah, I love babbling about snakes. And of course yes I love snakes.

xoxoxoBruce  Friday Apr 7 11:47 AM

I assume the Ratsnake in the first picture was dead before the Kingsnake started to swallow it. Did the Kingsnake kill it by asphyxiation?

Diaphone Jim  Friday Apr 7 05:03 PM

When I was seven or eight, I found a beautiful gopher snake while on an Easter egg hunt. Best find of the day, IMHO and I kept it for a year or two.

I do not like venomous snakes very much, especially near my home, family or livestock. After the little bastards get you, all the shotgun shooting and shovel whacking into little pieces is too late.

Eating BBQ rattlesnake is OK, but the down-the-gullet whole thing approach seems unappetizing to the max.
Does anyone know when eating look-alikes becomes cannibalism?
Cats seldom eat cats, or dogs dogs.
Are rat and king snakes far enough separated to make them fair game, so to speak? Or is it in the nature of the serpent?

xoxoxoBruce  Friday Apr 7 05:44 PM

I read some snakes will eat their own kind and sometimes their young.
Hey soylent green, is soylent green.

blueboy56  Monday Apr 10 12:34 PM

eeuuu, eeuuu, eeuuu

xoxoxoBruce  Monday Apr 10 01:40 PM

Hey, snakes sort the world into food and not food. And never use a napkin.

Your reply here?

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