A snake’s head can stay alive for up to an hour after being cut off from its body a new study finds.
Researchers at Massachusetts’ Northeastern University cut off the heads of 42 garter snakes then watched to see how long the heads and bodies could survive.
On average the heads lived for 36 minutes while the bodies survived for around an hour and a half.
But there was a wide range of outcomes: in one extreme case the head lived on for nearly an hour while in another the head died within seconds.
The findings published in the journal PLOS ONE could have implications for how we treat snakebites.
At present the best course of action for a snakebite is to kill the snake and bring its head to hospital so that doctors can identify the species and provide the appropriate antivenom.
But if the head can stay alive for up to an hour that may give doctors enough time to identify the snake and administer the antivenom before the head dies.
The study also has implications for our understanding of how snakes’ nervous systems work.
The fact that the snake heads were still able to latch onto and bite prey after being cut off suggests that their nervous system is more decentralized than we thought.
It’s long been believed that the brain is the center of control for all an animal’s actions.
But this study suggests that at least in snakes that’s not the case.
The findings could also have implications for our understanding of human consciousness.
If the brain is not the center of control for all our actions what does that say about our own sense of self?
This is a question that researchers will be exploring in the future.
In the meantime the findings of this study could help us to save lives in the event of a snakebite.
How long does it take for a snake to digest its prey?
It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for a snake to digest its prey.
How often do snakes shed their skin?
Most snakes will shed their skin 1-2 times a year.
What is the longest snake in the world?
The longest snake in the world is the reticulated python which can grow to be over 30 feet long!
What is the smallest snake in the world?
The smallest snake in the world is the thread snake which only grows to be about 4 inches long.
What do snakes eat?
Snakes eat a variety of things including small mammals reptiles amphibians and even other snakes.
How do snakes kill their prey?
Snakes kill their prey by wrapping their bodies around it and constricting it until it suffocates.
What is the most venomous snake in the world?
The most venomous snake in the world is the inland taipan which is found in Australia.
What is the difference between venomous and poisonous snakes?
Venomous snakes have fangs and venom glands that they use to inject their venom into their prey.
Poisonous snakes on the other hand do not have fangs or venom glands and instead simply release their poison when they are threatened.
How do snakes see?
Snakes see using their eyes just like humans but they also have a special organ called the pit organ that helps them sense heat.
How do snakes hear?
Snakes hear using special receptors that are located in their skin.
What is the lifespan of a snake?
The lifespan of a snake depends on the species but most snakes live for 10-20 years.
How do snakes mate?
Male snakes will often compete with each other for the chance to mate with a female.
The victor will then wrap his body around the female and stay there for several hours until the deed is done.
How many eggs does a snake usually lay?
The number of eggs a snake lays varies depending on the species but most snakes lay between 10 and 100 eggs at a time.
How long does it take for a snake egg to hatch?
It usually takes between 2 and 3 months for a snake egg to hatch.
How long does a snake head stay alive after it has been cut off?
A snake head can stay alive for up to an hour after it has been cut off.