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Old 04-28-2011, 03:44 PM
Alexandra_Nofi Alexandra_Nofi is offline
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Can a snake eat a human being?

We seem to hear this one a lot, and I couldn't find a thread about it, so, I figured I'd get one started.

I think part of why this got so popular was because of that movie Anaconda. I hate that movie. Green anacondas are such sweet animals, and now people hate them because of information that isn't true, and events in a movie that weren't even real.

Now, some odd number of years ago, I heard a scientist give his take on this myth, and I don't remember it word for word, but he basically saying this: The prey that snakes typically eat, you will notice they always swallow head first so that the limbs fold flat against the body. On humans, we have this round, cumbersome head, and shoulders that stick out very broadly. Our bodies are flat, while a typical prey item, like a mouse or rat, is round.

The scientist did also say that maybe a full grown anaconda or reticulated python could eat a newborn baby, but even human babies do not have the typical shape of a prey item.

Snakes may not be what we consider the most intelligent animals on the planet, but they definitely know what they can and cannot eat.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:51 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

I heard the same, humans have broad shoulders, in some Natgeo or Animal Planet show, an Indonesian ranger claimed that he found a guy in the mouth of a burmese python, both were dead; apparently the snake choked himself when trying to eat the guy, who was inside the snake until their shoulders.There were no pictures or videos about this incident.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:55 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

In the unlikely event that a small human baby is exposed to a large and hungry anaconda, retic or other large constrictor, there is no doubt in my mind that it can and will eat it. It's just a matter of opportunity and need.

I would not describe anacondas as "sweet" snakes as snakes in general go. Maybe a Ball Python or a corn snake might more deserve to be called "sweet"!!!
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:55 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

I have to disagree with much of your post. First of all, while green anacondas are impressive, beautiful animals, I wouldn't describe them as "sweet". And anyone who gets their scientific information from an action/comedy movie has more problems than we can solve on a site like this. There are action/comedy movies about anything from killer spiders, to squids, to sharks, to piranhas, and all of these have absolutely no basis in truth and make no attempt to scientifically accurate.

Next, a large anaconda most certainly could eat an appropriately-sized human. That isn't to say this would be common or likely, but in certain circumstances it would indeed be possible.

Next, snakes are not always the best judge of what they can and cannot eat. Here's a photo of a Burmese python bursting open after eating an alligator that was a bit too much for it. Gator-guzzling python comes to messy end - Technology & science - Science - msnbc.com
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:58 PM
Alexandra_Nofi Alexandra_Nofi is offline
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by Ice View Post
I heard the same, humans have broad shoulders, in some Natgeo or Animal Planet show, an Indonesian ranger claimed that he found a guy in the mouth of a burmese python, both were dead; apparently the snake choked himself when trying to eat the guy, who was inside the snake until their shoulders.There were no pictures or videos about this incident.
If I saw a snake attempting to eat a human being with my own two eyes, then I would believe they could at least try.

I think snakes are smarter than that. They certainly won't put themselves in harms way just to eat the biggest meal they can find to feed our obsession with snakes eating super huge meals. When a snake sees prey it normally eats, it goes and tries to catch it. They don't go out in search of prey with the perfect size they want - they catch it as soon as they see it because they may not see it again for several weeks.

Maybe the obsession with eating big meals is a Christianity thing, like, people already associate the snake with Satan, so, perhaps seeing a snake eat a whole animal made them associate that with gluttony, too.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:05 PM
Alexandra_Nofi Alexandra_Nofi is offline
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by TammyJamaica View Post
In the unlikely event that a small human baby is exposed to a large and hungry anaconda, retic or other large constrictor, there is no doubt in my mind that it can and will eat it. It's just a matter of opportunity and need.
I would not describe anacondas as "sweet" snakes as snakes in general go. Maybe a Ball Python or a corn snake might more deserve to be called "sweet"!!!
As long as you don't mist their cages when they are inside it, I find green anacondas to be very sweet natured. But only in captivity. I've seen how they are in the wild, they are uppity no matter what size they are. One of my internet friends has a full grown female green anaconda (and two yellows), and her green is very, very well socialized. As a matter of fact, we seem to hear more stories of pythons of all sizes attacking people, yet boas not so much. And boas are the ones who are generally more aggressive. (Maybe it's because a boa's body language is easier to read than a python's).
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:14 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

Welcome to the site, by the way!

And also by the way - "Anaconda" has always been one of my all time favourite movies!!! I especially loved the very end scene, when they found the indians, and the flute music...very nice. And I have a corn snake that grabs his prey before it hits the ground, too....!!! Just like in the movie.

I do realize that it does nothing to make people like snakes, though!
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:15 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

Ah, the perennial debate resurfaces. Babies and children aside, it would take a very large snake to get an adult down the hatch. It would be difficult to get past our shoulders, however, should the snake decide to go feet first, it could get the job done and we all know that, occasionally, a snake will start with "the wrong end".
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:16 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by antiquity View Post
I have to disagree with much of your post. First of all, while green anacondas are impressive, beautiful animals, I wouldn't describe them as "sweet". And anyone who gets their scientific information from an action/comedy movie has more problems than we can solve on a site like this. There are action/comedy movies about anything from killer spiders, to squids, to sharks, to piranhas, and all of these have absolutely no basis in truth and make no attempt to scientifically accurate.

Next, a large anaconda most certainly could eat an appropriately-sized human. That isn't to say this would be common or likely, but in certain circumstances it would indeed be possible.

Next, snakes are not always the best judge of what they can and cannot eat. Here's a photo of a Burmese python bursting open after eating an alligator that was a bit too much for it. Gator-guzzling python comes to messy end - Technology & science - Science - msnbc.com
I think you misunderstood a lot of my post... It sounds like you are saying that I think the stuff in the film "Anaconda" is real, when it reality, I am saying exactly the opposite. If you really believe a snake can eat a human larger than an infant, please state a theory behind it.

I don't see photos as proof. ANYONE can put a photo in photoshop and tweak it to make it look like that is real. There is no question in my mind that a snake could burst open if eating a meal that is too big. However, snakes, like all animals, have instincts. With the exception of a few species, snakes in general are not raised by parents in the wild. They are left to fend for themselves, yet they know exactly what their prey is. Obviously, putting a burmese python in an unnatural habitat can skew it's perception of what type of prey to eat, but like I said before, they know how big they are in relation to their food, and I don't think a snake would intentionally try to swallow something it knows it can't actually swallow, just to see if it will get away with it.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:17 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by Alexandra_Nofi View Post
As long as you don't mist their cages when they are inside it, I find green anacondas to be very sweet natured. But only in captivity. I've seen how they are in the wild, they are uppity no matter what size they are. One of my internet friends has a full grown female green anaconda (and two yellows), and her green is very, very well socialized. As a matter of fact, we seem to hear more stories of pythons of all sizes attacking people, yet boas not so much. And boas are the ones who are generally more aggressive. (Maybe it's because a boa's body language is easier to read than a python's).
Well, if I ever am lucky enough to own an anaconda, I will be certain never to mist their cage while they are inside it!!!
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:18 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by DiamondCreek View Post
Ah, the perennial debate resurfaces. Babies and children aside, it would take a very large snake to get an adult down the hatch. It would be difficult to get past our shoulders, however, should the snake decide to go feet first, it could get the job done and we all know that, occasionally, a snake will start with "the wrong end".
Wait, if it started around the human's feet, how would it get past the armpits?
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:19 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by Ice View Post
I heard the same, humans have broad shoulders, in some Natgeo or Animal Planet show, an Indonesian ranger claimed that he found a guy in the mouth of a burmese python, both were dead; apparently the snake choked himself when trying to eat the guy, who was inside the snake until their shoulders.There were no pictures or videos about this incident.
Have you ever watched a large snake feed? I pay close attention to my Burm when she eats because I find it fascinating. On smaller snakes, you don't often get a good view of some of the adaptations that make swallowing prey whole possible.

I don't believe the Burm in your story would have choked to death. I have personally witnessed my Burm extend her trachea out past what she is swallowing so she can continue to breathe through the process.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:20 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by TammyJamaica View Post
Well, if I ever am lucky enough to own an anaconda, I will be certain never to mist their cage while they are inside it!!!
No one is really sure why it makes them so angry... My friend and I think it has something to do with them being semi-aquatic, like they know when they should and should not be wet, kind of like how turtles seem to just know when they need extra calcium.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:20 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

Just a friendly reminder, there is no religious discussion on this forum. I will be heavily moderating this thread. This is the only warning.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:21 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by Alexandra_Nofi View Post
Wait, if it started around the human's feet, how would it get past the armpits?
Going feet first would allow a human's arms to fold up along their head, including the change of angle in the collar bones and shoulder blades. Go ahead and raise your arms straight up over your head and you'll see what I mean.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:27 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by Alexandra_Nofi View Post
I think you misunderstood a lot of my post... It sounds like you are saying that I think the stuff in the film "Anaconda" is real, when it reality, I am saying exactly the opposite. If you really believe a snake can eat a human larger than an infant, please state a theory behind it.
I don't see photos as proof. ANYONE can put a photo in photoshop and tweak it to make it look like that is real. There is no question in my mind that a snake could burst open if eating a meal that is too big. However, snakes, like all animals, have instincts. With the exception of a few species, snakes in general are not raised by parents in the wild. They are left to fend for themselves, yet they know exactly what their prey is. Obviously, putting a burmese python in an unnatural habitat can skew it's perception of what type of prey to eat, but like I said before, they know how big they are in relation to their food, and I don't think a snake would intentionally try to swallow something it knows it can't actually swallow, just to see if it will get away with it.
I believe that photo is 100% real, and it is not the first time I've seen or heard that exact story, not to mention many like it. Snakes absolutely will eat something that is too large for them. As much as a love snakes, they are really not all that intelligent. Anyone who has a pet snake has more than likely seen them take prey that is too large... order small rats and get a medium in there.. don't notice until snake starts swallowing it down.. looks uncomfortable.

As for a human? If a snake was starved enough, and had an appropraite, or even not so appropriate, human-prey item at hand, I wouldn't be surprised. Do I think an adult anaconda would take on an adult human? No.. but an infant? Probably.

This said, I do not think people have to fear their well-fed and well-cared for snakes trying to have their children for dessert. Which is really where the whole, "Human-eating snake" comes into play. People aren't worried about a wild snake in their area eating them, they're worried about our pets.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:34 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by TammyJamaica View Post
Welcome to the site, by the way!
And also by the way - "Anaconda" has always been one of my all time favourite movies!!! I especially loved the very end scene, when they found the indians, and the flute music...very nice. And I have a corn snake that grabs his prey before it hits the ground, too....!!! Just like in the movie.
I do realize that it does nothing to make people like snakes, though!
I used to like the movie when I was a kid, but, as my love of snakes grew, I started to hate the film for the bad rap it gave the anaconda. Most people don't even know that there is more than one species of anaconda!

The movie I really, really hate is Snakes on a Plane. My mother tried to get me to go see it and I was like, "I can't watch a movie where they kill animals." And she's like, "Wait what?" And I'm like, "Yeah, I've seen the trailer. They blow them up, set them on fire, cut them apart, the whole thing is sick." Second she heard that she lost all interest in the movie. I hate movies where any animal dies, and my mother probably hates it even more than me. She can't even watch Free Willy, and Willy doesn't even die!

But, getting back on the subject, unless we keep snakes as pets, they try to avoid humans as much as possible. This is also part of my argument why snakes don't try to eat humans: They are scared of us. We are HUGE compared to them. We stand upright, they are always on the ground. Would you try to eat something big and scary like that?
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:39 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Going feet first would allow a human's arms to fold up along their head, including the change of angle in the collar bones and shoulder blades. Go ahead and raise your arms straight up over your head and you'll see what I mean.
It makes sense, especially since when dead, muscles and joints become limp, so, bending up the arms or even dislocating the shoulders would probably happen "naturally". I can kind of see it if the snake goes backwards, assuming the snake can deduce that it should start at the feet. A burmese python seems to me like a logical and reactive animal, not a deductive one...
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:43 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

Saying Anaconda is a bad movie because it gives snakes a bad rep is like saying It is a bad movie because it gives clowns a bad rep. They're meant to be scary. It's fiction. It's all for fun. To take a movie like that seriously would take a very naive person.

The only snake scene that made me cringe that I can recall is in Indiana Jones and the Crystal skull, when they use a burmese python as a rope to pull them out of the quicksand. It was goofy, which I get... but really? A snake as a rope? The rest of the time I generally just say "Oh look at the GIANT... SCARY... VENEMOUS.... ball python? Bahahahah!" Snake are creepy and weird (which makes them cool for us), and people find them scary. That's why they're great in movies. You just have to remind yourself, and any of your naive friends, that it's fiction, and not trying to be accurate. There wouldn't be any good (or bad ) movies if every director and screenwriter had to take into account every naive person who would believe their bull.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:44 PM
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Re: Can a snake eat a human being?

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Originally Posted by Alexandra_Nofi View Post
It makes sense, especially since when dead, muscles and joints become limp, so, bending up the arms or even dislocating the shoulders would probably happen "naturally". I can kind of see it if the snake goes backwards, assuming the snake can deduce that it should start at the feet. A burmese python seems to me like a logical and reactive animal, not a deductive one...
You did ask if a snake CAN eat a human, not if they WOULD. Can they? Probably. Will they? Probably not.
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