Why Do Snakes Eat Themselves?

Why do snakes eat themselves? Initially, if you are present when the animal begins biting its tail, it is important to ascertain whether its teeth are embedded in the skin. Subsequently, attempt to delicately remove the tail from the animal’s mouth.

This behaviour is more likely to occur in a captive environment. If you happen to discover yourself consuming your own body, make an effort to cease this action. If the previous approach proves ineffective, it is advisable to promptly consult a veterinarian.

But why do snakes eat themselves? Let us now find out in this information-filled article!


Why Do Snakes Eat Themselves?

Why Do Snakes Eat Themselves
Picture of a Snake Eating Itself

While the concept of an animal consuming its own body may elicit horror, it is important to note that snakes are not the only creatures engaging in such behaviour. Self-cannibalism is a relatively frequent and unsettling behaviour observed in birds that have sustained injuries.

However, the distinctive manner in which snakes engage in this behaviour and the underlying reasons for their actions are what set them apart.

What is the reason behind snakes engaging in self-cannibalism? The exact cause of a snake eating itself remains uncertain, although there are several credible theories. Veterinarians have identified several potential causes that may lead to this occurrence in snakes:


Read also: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your Boa Snake Pet


  • Metabolism:

Another possible explanation for this phenomenon is that when a snake’s metabolism increases, it may falsely perceive itself as being extremely hungry, despite not actually needing food.

When a pet snake lacks access to other food sources, which is typically the case, it may resort to consuming its own tail as the only available option.

  • Temperature:

Animal experts believe that an elevated body temperature can potentially induce a stress response in snakes, leading them to engage in self-cannibalism.

In case you were unaware, snakes possess the characteristic of being cold-blooded. This implies that they are unable to control their body temperature.

Their body adjusts to the temperature of their surroundings. This is the reason why they bask on rocks in their natural habitat.

  • Disorientation:

One possible explanation for this behaviour could be a state of confusion. If a snake becomes disoriented, it may mistakenly perceive its tail as potential prey and attempt to consume it.

The confusion may arise due to factors such as stress or problems with temperature regulation.


Read also: Is a Snake a Vertebrate or Invertebrate?


What To Do if You Find Your Snake Eating Itself

If you are present when the animal initially begins biting its tail, it is important to first ascertain whether the animal’s teeth are not deeply embedded in its skin.

Subsequently, you should attempt to delicately remove the tail from the animal’s mouth. This can be accomplished by gently separating the snake’s head from its tail.

Nevertheless, this technique may not be effective for certain breeds that possess hinged jaws. In this scenario, it may be necessary to gently tap the animal’s nose multiple times to prompt it to release its grip, allowing for the safe removal of the tail from its mouth.

If you are unable to effectively extract the tail from the snake’s mouth, it is imperative to promptly seek assistance from an emergency veterinarian.

If feasible, please locate a veterinarian who specialises in treating snakes. However, the primary concern is to promptly transport the pet to a medical facility.

The veterinarian can help remove the snake’s tail from its throat, as long as it has not progressed too far. The veterinarian should also guide preventive measures to address the recurring behaviour.

If you manage to remove the tail from the mouth by yourself, it is crucial to promptly take additional measures to prevent the reoccurrence of tail-eating behaviour.

Firstly, it is imperative to promptly lower the snake’s body temperature. To lower the body temperature of the animal, you can relocate it to a cooler environment, deactivate the heat lamps, and apply cool water by spraying.

The primary measure to prevent the recurrence of this behaviour is to regulate the snake’s body temperature and maintain a cooler environment. This may necessitate a reevaluation of the enclosure to devise strategies for preventing future overheating.

Apart from temperature, could there be other factors contributing to the snake’s stress, such as the presence of other observable pets?

If that is the case, it is advisable to use a partition to prevent the snake from having visual contact with the other pet. Is there a possibility that another factor is contributing to its disorientation?

If feasible, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to have the snake examined and discuss strategies for regulating its temperature and reducing its stress levels.


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To prevent this behaviour, it is advisable to acquire comprehensive knowledge regarding the care and nourishment requirements specific to the breed of snake you currently own or intend to acquire.

The occurrence of this behaviour is infrequent, yet it is not unheard of. Snakes engage in self-cannibalism as a result of various factors, such as stress, difficulties in regulating body temperature, increased metabolic rate, hunger, the need to shed their skin, limited living space, illness, or disorientation.

Now that you know why snakes eat themselves do well to share this article with your friend!

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