Snake's 'dying moment deserves an Oscar'

2017-06-26 15:06


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Pretoria - Forget about a Bells, this snake deserves an Oscar.

That was the reaction of many a person on Facebook to a post of a young snake’s dramatic “dying moment”. 

Not even an “injured” soccer player would be able to emulate the American Hognose’s histrionics, Netwerk24 reported.

The Facebook page Daily Picks and Flicks earlier this month posted a video clip of 57 seconds and even those with a serious aversion to snakes, had to admire its evolutionary ingenuity.

The post is titled “Snake Plays Dead: Give this snake an Oscar!

The clip starts with the snake - which Johan Marais of the African Snake Bite Institute identified as a harmless American Hognose – becoming aware of a person’s presence and changing position.

The instant the snake is touched, it lolls its head backwards.

Its mouth falls open dramatically the moment it “dies”.

The flicking forked tongue is the only giveaway that it is merely a ruse to survive. These snakes have adapted over the years to pretend that they are dead when they feel threatened.

In what appears to be the throes of death, the snake curls to make its black belly show upwards.

To make sure that you firmly believe it's now in snake heaven, the tongue flicks another few times before the speckled body just lies there – the message a clear “I’m dead, now go away.” 

Even when it was picked up, its head lolled and its body stayed limp.

The person quietly turns it belly down again, but the snake makes sure that its triangular head lolls.

He explains that the snake pretends to be dead when it feels threatened. 

"The belly is black so that it appears rotten and really dead. It also puts off the attacker, which must think that it is too rotten to eat."

Marais said it was quite common for snakes to pretend that they’re dead.

“Several of our South African snakes, such as cobras and the rinkhals, do it as well.

“There is a good reason for it. The snake can’t get away from danger fast enough and then pretends to be dead. Predators prefer killing their own prey.

“However, if one were to touch one of these snakes, they could easily bite.”

- Health24: Snake bites

Asked about the flicking tongue, Marais explained that snakes “smelt” with it.

“They have a Jacobson’s organ in their palate which basically does chemical analysis of dust particles placed there with the tongue. Very effective!”

Read more on:    pretoria  |  animals

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