Recent research reveals that Boa constrictors and other infamous snakes such as the python or the anaconda kill their prey by heart attack and not by suffocation.
Snakes such as the anaconda, the python or the Boa constrictor have become generally known for their ability to coil around the necks of their victims and killing them by suffocation. However, this notion has been proven to be false by a recent research project released by the Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
Dave Hardy came up with the hypothesis that was the baseline of the study. As he pointed out to his colleague, Dr. Scott Boback, the animals that are killed by snakes are dying too fast. Although the animals can be seen gasping for air, the short amount of time up to their death would suggest that another mechanism takes place.
“What Hardy saw was the speed at which the animals were dying… they were dying way too quickly for it to be suffocation. He suspected that it was circulatory or cardiac arrest because of the speed at which death was occurring,” explained lead researcher of the project was Dr. Scott Boback.
Dr. Scott Boback together with his team put together an experiment in order to demonstrate how the snake actually kills its prey.
They used mice in their experiment, that were under anesthesia the entire time and so did not feel any pain throughout the experiment. The scientists inserted a specialized implant in their chest cavities, that was used to monitor the hearts’ electrical activity. They also used intravenous and arterial catheters to observe their vascular pressure.
The mice were fed to captive boa constrictors, in order to be able to observe the entire process from a close range. As expected, the snake applied pressure to the chests and abdomens of the mice, which led to heart attacks instead of suffocation.
It seems that snakes actually utilize the pressure that results from squeezing the body of the animal that they prey upon to interfere with the proper function of its circulatory system, that eventually leads to a heart attack. As the snake squeezes continuously, the pressure in the arteries goes down, while the pressure in the veins goes up, and this leads the insufficient blood supply of the vital organs. However, the heart is the first to stop working.
This recent discovery serves to scientists so that they may get a better understanding of the snakes’ attack method and it will definitely fuel further research project from here on.
Image Source: microscopy-uk.org.uk