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Old 10-23-17, 09:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The digestion process.

I feed my python every Monday morning, after thoroughly cleaning out his tub and giving him a bowl of fresh water. After that he cruises around his tub for a few minutes, then coils up on his warm spot (around 90F/32C). Occasionally he'll submerge himself in his water bowl for a short time right after eating.

I don't touch his tub again until I change his water the next day, 24 hours later. I avoid touching him if possible, but sometimes he'll spread out over the tub floor when I'm filling his bowl and I have to move or lift him out of the way before I can put it back safely.

This got me thinking about the "don't handle your snake for 24-48 hours after eating" rule. Other than possible regurgitation, what might happen? I'm sure a mouse is pretty gooey after 24 hours of digestion at 90F, but what about big snakes such as retics or Burmese pythons swallowing goats, or African rock pythons eating antelopes. Horns and hooves must be pretty tough to digest, so how do snakes protect themselves from internal injury when they move to shelter after eating such big prey?
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Old 10-24-17, 12:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: The digestion process.

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... sometimes he'll spread out over the tub floor when I'm filling his bowl and I have to move or lift him out of the way before I can put it back safely.
Note: This is usually when I'm changing his water during the week, and he's absolutely fine. Today was the only time I've moved him just 24 hours after feeding, and he clearly wasn't happy. Lesson learned, and I wont do it again!
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Old 10-24-17, 02:12 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: The digestion process.

Ha, this is actually very interesting. I was reading about that exact thing few weeks ago. Don't have the links here (work) but will have a look at home. Basically those large constrictors eating large prey also almost entirely make a gooey mess out of their food within 24-48 hours. There were some studies about the digestion of a crocodile by a large python (forgot which species exactly), it was surprising just how fast their digestion breaks the animal down. You could see the day to day progress on x-rays.
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Old 10-24-17, 05:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: The digestion process.

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Originally Posted by TRD View Post
There were some studies about the digestion of a crocodile by a large python (forgot which species exactly), it was surprising just how fast their digestion breaks the animal down. You could see the day to day progress on x-rays.
I've just read it, it was a Burm. Sounds like snakes sometimes bite off more than they can chew!

"On one occasion a python was discovered to have burst open after having consumed an alligator in Florida 10 years ago. I is thought the alligator had managed to kick its way out of the python."

Another source (National Geographic) gives a different reason for the snake bursting open:

"... Florida is an unnatural environment for that snake species; it's not as warm as the snake's habitat in Southeast Asia. So the snake couldn't digest fast enough to keep the food from rotting. Once it started to rot inside the snake, the snake began to die. Its body split open because of that process, not because the croc was too large."

It's the internet, so believe whichever you choose!

This is also from an interesting article:
"The digestive enzymes of snakes are so powerful that they can dissolve bones and egg shells. However, hair, claws, insect shells, etc., are usually excreted by these animals."

https://www.buzzle.com/articles/how-...heir-food.html

It looks like snakes have a very thick-walled and muscular esophagus, stomach and small intestine, then a less muscular, thin-walled large intestine (anything sharp or spikey has probably been dissolved by that stage).

I also saw a video on YouTube where an African rock python regurgitated an antelope, resulting in its face becoming impaled on the horns. The snake managed to pull itself off and slither away, I'm not sure if it would survive after such an incident. The worst part is that the snake was trying to escape from the cameraman, left alone it would have safely swallowed the meal.

There was another report of a python dying after swallowing a porcupine, so I guess these things do happen from time to time.
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Old 10-25-17, 07:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: The digestion process.

The 48 hour rule stems from a few contributing factors-

1. People often feed their snakes too large of food items.
2. People often feed their snakes too often (sometimes with those same large food items)
3. The most popular snake is the ball python.
4. Ball pythons tend to be handled more "aggressively" than most snakes, probably not the right word for it but what I mean by this is that people will carry them all over, put them in a hoodie pocket, etc. Just seems to happen more with BP's than any other species from what I've seen.
5. This leads people to believing that Ball Pythons are more regurgitation prone than other species.

I feed my snakes smaller items, less often. I feel could probably hold my snakes a few hours after eating with no ill effects and that's with me keeping my snakes with no hot spot and around 78-83 degrees F.

I find it funny that the 48 hour thing became the rule when there are still so many out there who advocate for feeding their snakes in separate containers then moving them back to their main enclosures.
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Old 10-25-17, 10:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: The digestion process.

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I find it funny that the 48 hour thing became the rule when there are still so many out there who advocate for feeding their snakes in separate containers then moving them back to their main enclosures.
I thought the same thing. I was mainly interested in knowing if the skeleton or other sharp parts of a prey item could cause internal injuries to a snake once the surrounding soft tissue had been digested, but it looks like in all but the most extreme cases evolution has got things covered.
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