Don’t Be Afraid of the African Egg-Eating Snake... Unless you Are an Egg!
by Zale Thoronka, age 11
Did you know that the African egg-eating snake can eat a bird’s egg faster than you can say “omelette”? The snake has a strong sense of smell and will only eat fresh eggs. Unlike other creatures that use their noses to smell, the snake’s nose lacks sensors therefore it uses its tongue as a guide to find food.
Once the snake finds a fresh egg, it uses its flexible jaw to swallow the egg. Its built-in food processor then collects the contents of the egg. After swollowing, two bones in its spine drill into the eggshell, while other bones crack the shell down the middle.
Contents from the egg drain into the snake’s throat, known as its gullet. Further movements from the snake’s gullet break the shell down even more. Once the snake has eaten all the contents of the egg, it spits out the shell as a tiny pellet.
When it comes to its size, the African egg-eating snake can grow up to 45 to 75 cm (17 to 30 inches) long, making it the fourth smallest snake in the world. There are six species of these small snakes that live in the southern, eastern, and western parts of Africa.
From its size to its ability to locate and process food in a unique way, the African egg-eating snake is an awesome creature and one many people in the world keep as a cool pet.
[Sources: Snakes and Reptiles; National Geographic]