Snakes have an Innate Sensor

When boa constrictors catch their prey, they will try to squeeze the prey to death and mush it into a nice meal.
They need to mush it so it can slide it down their throats easier. If the snakes can know when the prey’s heartbeat is going out, they will save energy and time. If they use a lot of energy, the snakes will be tired and worn down and won’t be able to defend off a predator.

Scientists have created lab prey that has been dead just for a little bit so they are warm it up and put a beating heart into the animal. Boas generally squeeze their prey for about 20 minutes. When they put a continuous beating heart the boa
continued squeezing after the normal 20 minutes, but gave up shortly after.  The Boa consistently adjusted its coils in order to get maximum levels of pressure on the prey.  Next, they put an animal with no beating heart and the snakes squeezed half as hard and stopped after 10 minutes.  Last the scientists put in a beating heart that stopped after 10 minutes.  The snakes had the prey clenched for about 17 minute’s altogether.

Many scientists believe that knowing the prey’s heartbeat is an innate skill. In other words, they are born with the knowledge to know the heartbeat.  Captive born snakes were able to do the same squeezing as the wild snakes. The wild snakes were able to squeeze harder and longer because they are stronger.  Scientists think this skill was developed when they evolved and lost their legs but picked up more sensitive skin. The sensitive skin helps sense the prey’s heartbeat.

Being able to know the prey’s heartbeat is an extra advantage for the snakes. If they know the animal is unable to escape they can release it and save energy. It is potentially dangerous activity for the snakes as well. The metabolic rate of the snake raises seven folds during the process. Knowing the heartbeat saves the snake time and energy.

In conclusion, a snake being able to sense the prey’s heartbeat is very valuable skill for them. It saves them time
and conserves energy needed to do other things. The energy loss from the constricting puts them in a great deal of harm from other predators. Constricting the prey is a dangerous activity and knowing how long they need to constrict the prey helps them a lot.

Do you think the snake has this as an innate skill?

Why do you think this is important?

What does this do for the snake?


5 thoughts on “Snakes have an Innate Sensor

  1. Being able to sense a heartbeat of their prey really helps the snakes. Snakes have many other senses, here’s a link to a video about the 5 or 6 senses a snake tends to have other than sensing the heartbeat.
    I used to have a snake as a pet, and I fed him dead mice. I have always wondered why he took so long. This article helped me learn that. Snakes need to know when their prey is living or dead. If it is still alive when they swallow it, then it could move and hurt the snake. If they constrict it too long, they will then run out of energy. Here is another link to find out more about the topic of snakes sensing the heartbeat of prey.

  2. This in important for the snake because the snake can sense its pray and be able to tell if its living or already dead. I knew snakes had that skill but I never knew that it could be harmful to the snake. It’s helpful because when most animals get scared they freeze, drop over, or hold their breath so being able to sense the heart beat is a major advantage. I think scientists should go deeper in to researching this, I’d definitely would be interested to see what they find out about it.

  3. This is important because it tell us the reader how other animal interact with their prey. snake dont have hand and legs to fight their opponent so they use the strenght in their body to prevent them from loosing a fight. A snake body strenght is important to them because that what they use to kill a animals. if a snake was a weak anilmal then we will have a lower piopulation of snake because alot of snake will die everyday and every second. snake live on other animals to survice, when it come to a fight first thing a snake do is to lift it head up to show their opponent that they are ready. snake sent a nonverabal mesasage to other animals saying “If you mess with me i will have no heart with you, i will squeez you to death like i did that other animal”. yes this a innate skill because they were born with a high body strenght. different animals have their own way of killing their prey and squeezing a animals to death is a snake trick of killing their prey.Snake put their head up to fight and put their head down to sneak up on their prey. i found more info off this website..

  4. I think that it is scary to think that a snake could kill something in like ten mintues. Scienests should go more into depth with this topic because i am sure that we could find out what else that a snake can do to an animal with ten mintues of their day. It take skill to attack an animal that fast. I knew that snakes shed skin but i didnt know that it was sensitive. I found some more information that you should check at this website :

  5. I think that is deffinetly a useful skill to have. I would have never guessed that snaked had this skill. People usually think that just because the breathing has stopped means that the animal is dead. Obviously not, they could just be holding their breath, but it is really cool to know that they can sense the heart beat. This skill does help them conserve energy studies do show that they hold their prey for less time if the heart beat stops sooner. I believe that scientists should learn more about this so we have a little bit more information.

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