Top 7 Snake Killers

From hedgehogs to snakes

  Ratel feeding on a snake
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1.It's hard to imagine that such a slow and weak animal like a hedgehog can kill a viper. A viper attack is a blind attack and a retreat. But against this attack, the hedgehog opposes an armor of spines. The hedgehog irritates the viper continuously and each attack on the armor of spines further wounds the viper. When the viper is so badly wounded that it cannot longer attack, the hedgehog approaches biting the snake from its neck several times. The final bite crushes the vertebrae.

Hedgehogs start eating the snake's head first. The eating lasts several hours, as the hedgehog's teeth are rather adapted for an insect diet. A large viper cannot be consumed entirely by a hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are only partially immune to snakes' venom, and they can be even killed if bitten in certain areas, like the muzzle for example. Some can die in 3 hours after being bitten by the muzzle, others can experience just a swell.

Hedgehogs' resistance to snake venom is 35-45 times higher than that of a Guinea pig the same size, but this is influenced by the hedgehog's size, the venom amount and the age of the snake. A hedgehog can also tolerate doses of arsenic that may kill 25 persons.

2.Ratels or honey badgers are famous for their snake killing abilities, grabbing a snake behind the head in their powerful jaws and killing it. A 1.5 m (5 ft) snake is consumed in 15 minutes. They are immune to cobra venom, which is highly neurotoxic for humans (it paralyzes you, killing you by suffocation).

The honey badger can kill extremely dangerous venomous snakes, like the puff adder, which with its huge fangs delivers huge amounts of flesh dissolving venom. If bitten, the ratel will turn severely swollen and paralyzed for 2-3 hours. But when re-awaking, the ratel will eat the already killed snake.

These ferocious carnivores are even known to steal a snake's kill, then to hunt the snake.

3.Mongooses fascinate the snake with their gaze, turning them immobile, then tossing on them and devouring them. The fight is extremely rapid, with jumps of high agility against the meandering of the reptiles and strong and precise bites of the mongoose. The thick coat of the mongoose also impedes the snakes to deliver their venom.

Mongooses are known to kill even 3 m (10 ft) long king cobras (the longest venomous snake). Still, the mongooses are not totally immune to snake venom but much more resistant to it: for the same weight, they resist 20 times more than a mouse. In happy cases, the mongoose requires several hours until the effect of the venom is gone. Then, it returns, and starts eating the snake, head first.

4.The favorite prey of the secretary birds are snakes. The bird has very long legs and usually kills the snake with strong and precise kicks. If it cannot kill the snake on the ground, it raises it on the air and throws it over stones.

The secretary bird has a tuft of feathers on the nape (hence the name secretary, as they resemble the old secretaries carrying their pencils at the ear), which is spread when attacking and misleads snake's attack.

5.A snake's best prey is ...another snake! The shape of a snake makes it easier for a snake to swallow another snake. There are hundreds of snake species specialized on eating other snakes.

Musurana snakes (Clelia) from South America are kept by locals as pets, as they kill through constriction venomous snakes. Interestingly, their rear fangs deliver a venom stronger against mammals than reptiles.

King cobra, the largest venomous snake, up to 5,5 m (18 ft) long, is a snake specialist. Even its scientific name, Ophiophagus, means "snake eater" and its preferred preys are ...other cobras!

The king snakes in North America are the dread of other snakes, and even if non-venomous, their favorite prey are the deadly rattlesnakes, to whose venom they are totally immune.

6.There is even a genus of raptor birds specialized on snakes, called snake eagles (Circaetus). Their favorite prey are the snakes, and these birds inhabit Europe, Asia, and Africa.

7.Armadillos can kill snakes by launching themselves upon these reptiles and cutting them with the edge of their hard shell.

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By    5 Jan 2008, 12:01 GMT