Most snakes are carnivorous and eat birds, fish, frogs, lizards and such small animals as rabbits and rats. Most snakes swallow their prey alive. However, venomous snakes generally wait for their venom to kill the animal before they swallow it.
After feeding, a snake may lie in the sun. The heat of the sun raises it’s body temperature, which speeds up the process of digestion. This is when they are most vulnerable.
A meal may last a snake a long time. A snake can survive a long time without food for several reasons:
- They do not need much food to maintain a steady body temperature.
- They remain inactive for long periods and so use up little energy.
- They have extensive tissues that store fat. During long fasts they live off this fat.
Cobras often feed on eggs and chicks raided from poultry houses, in addition to small mammals, toads, lizards, birds and other snakes.
The Cobra has some unusual feeding traits.
The cobra has long spines inside the throat on the neck vertebrae. After it has swallowed an egg, the shell is pierced by these spines and then crushed by the snake’s muscle contractions. The contents of the egg pass through the throat, but the vertebrae spines prevent the passage of the shell. The cobra then spits out the shell.
The King Cobra, O. Hannah, is a snake eater. Like the King Snake, King Cobra’s will seek out and feed on any variety of snake that crosses their path. They will even eat other venomous and poisonous snakes, but will usually avoid them. They have even been known to eat other cobras!
Snakes thus form an important link in the food chain and they should not be indiscriminately killed simply because people incorrectly believe them to be poisonous and therefore dangerous.