Why Do Snakes Eat Themselves?

When your snake bites itself, you may get a little worried. When you come home to find your snake eating its tail, its even worse! This article answers the question, Why do snakes eat themselves? Well also dive deeper into what you can do when your snake is eating itself, as well as what to do when your snake bites itself.

Spraying cool water on the animal, as
well as removing the heat source temporarily can also help. Luckily, it doesnt happen as much in real life as youre confronted with it on tv or online.

This theory is supported by the fact that its often the older snakes that get caught portraying this behavior regularly. Due to the fact that a lot of pet snakes, like ball pythons, are constrictors, they have backward pointed teeth. Not only can the teeth sink in pretty deep, but the snakes tail can also actually get stuck in its mouth!

Be careful not to pull the teeth in deeper or cause any extra
damage to the snake. Things like
temperature, enclosure size and cleanliness can all cause issues with your
snake. Is the enclosure in a calm place in the house or is it somewhere where
your snake is constantly exposed to vibrations or other disturbances?

We understand that you dont want to visit your vet for every little thing here at Urban Reptiles, but its harmful to your snake if it keeps trying to eat itself.

What kind of snake eats itself?

The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness.

Why do snakes bite their self?

Typically, snakes bite themselves because they are overheating, aggressive, overly stressed, hungry, or confusing their own tail for prey. Snakes may also bite themselves when their eyesight is impaired, such as when they are shedding.

Do snakes swallow themselves?

“They will sometimes see their own tail, they’ll think it’s a snake, they’ll take a bite out of it, and they’ll realise they’ve bit themselves. They don’t usually swallow themselves. … And usually, if you make a snake nervous while they’re eating, they will let go of whatever it is they’re eating,” he adds.

Snakes are well known to feed on a wide variety of small animals and birds. Eating other species and their eggs is common practice in snakes. But hardly anyone knows about cannibalistic (an act of consuming ones own flesh, eggs, and conspecifics) behavior.

Unlike humans and other mammals, snakes dont have sweat glands to maintain their inner body temperature. Being in captivity, when snakes get too hot and are unable to find a shady area to move, they get confused.

Snakes are impulsive creatures with small brains they react based on their basic instincts. If you havent provided enough food to your captive snake, he may get stressed and assume his tail as prey. Snakes who cant distinguish between light and dark get overstressed trying to know whether its day or nighttime.

Terrarium/room Size Its crucial to provide snakes with vast space where they can stretch and roam around. In addition to reduced eyesight, snakeskin might also release the smell of previous meals during the shedding process. The meal-like-smell can create a false alarm and confuse the snake to think that shedding skin is a meal or prey.

In such a case, the snakes might try to eat the partially shed skin and end up consuming their own tail. Extremely hot and humid weather can mess up the metabolism and basic intuitions of the snakes. With his affiliation to Purrfect n Pawesome, he found a way to satiate his craving to participate in pet health, wellness, and behavior analysis.

He has been a significant part of our team and a major contributor in equipping our site with useful, authentic, and research-backed articles.

Sometimes snakes will go full-on Ouroborus and begin to eat their own tails, creating a circle. However, unlike this mythical creature, it isnt exactly about self-renewal when your pet snake does it.

Why do snakes eat themselves?

So, why do snakes eat themselves? This question is a little hard to answer. We can’t mind read, and asking the snake why it does what it does won’t result in any useful information. However, there are some theories that hold some weight. Some logical reasoning gets us very far too.After doing some research on the topic, there’s a lot of evidence to support the temperature theory. If a snake gets overly hot, it’s thought that them eating themselves can happen as a result.The exact reason for this is unknown, but a lot of people have managed to restore their snake’s peace by placing them in some cool water. Spraying cool water on the animal, as well as removing the heat source temporarily can also help.Another reason why it is thought that snakes eat themselves is due to having a too small enclosure. It’s thought that snakes could confuse its tail with that of another snake. This especially seems to be the case for snakes which pray on other snakes.If a snake is shedding, it may also attack itself. Since it can’t see very well, it may confuse itself with another snake which can cause them to lash out and try to eat their prey/intruder.Exactly why snakes eat themselves is still a bit of a mystery. Not only that, but it’s also a rare thing. Luckily, it doesn’t happen as much in real life as you’re confronted with it on tv or online.Fun fact: Did you know the symbol of a snake eating itself is often called Ouroboros. Ouroboros literally means “tail devourer” in ancient Greek.

Why do snakes bite themselves?

Why snakes bite themselves is a lot along the lines of why snakes eat themselves. If a snake confuses itself with an intruder or prey, it may lash out and bite itself. This can cause a whole host of problems of course if it’s your pet snake.Another theory is that snakes will bite themselves when they are close to passing away. When a snake is on its last legs (As with a snake eating itself, why a snake bites itself is still a bit of a mystery. There are a few things you can do in both situations to prevent your snake from damaging itself any further though…

When to see a vet

If your snake draws blood, does it repeatedly, or you can’t get your snake to release itself, then visit your vet. We understand that you don’t want to visit your vet for every little thing here at Urban Reptiles, but it’s harmful to your snake if it keeps trying to eat itself.If you’re worried about the health of your snake, it’s always best to take them to a vet. Posts on our blog shouldn’t be used as medical advice for your reptiles, it’s just information that has worked for other people.

Self-cannibalism In Snakes: Is It Common?

To date, behavioral biologists have observed different types of cannibalism in snakes:Auto-cannibalism or self-cannibalism is an act of consuming one’s own flesh.

Overheated

In general, all species of snakes are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals. All snake species need an external heat source to keep them warm, e.g., heat lamps, sunlight, etc. During hot and humid weather, snakes sometimes get too hot.Unlike humans and other mammals, snakes don’t have sweat glands to maintain their inner body temperature. Too much heat can even kill a snake. The only way for them to balance their body temperature is to move to a cool, shady area.Being in captivity, when snakes get too hot and are unable to find a shady area to move, they get confused. High confusion can then lead to messier metabolism. So, what happens is that when their metabolism gets messed up, they start getting wrong hunger signals.The overheated snakes get a false sense that they’re starving. Without any potential prey to feed on, the perplexed snake starts considering its tail as prey. The confused snake will keep on eating itself until it dies.When you encounter such a scene, pour the cool water on the snake. This will help in cooling down his overheated body temperature. Immediately bring the snake to a vet. A veterinarian may provide you with practical methods to help the snake.

Overstressed

Snakes are impulsive creatures with small brains – they react based on their basic instincts. When snakes are held in captivity, certain situations or incidents can overstress a snake. Snakes feed on rats and other small vertebrates.The captive snake can get stressed to the point where he can’t differentiate between his tail and rat. He’ll consider his tail as prey and instinctively jump on it to ingest. The overstressed snake will have delusions and assume his own tail as a food item.To handle such a situation, immediately contact your vet. Taking professional help will be better than rashly taking things into your own hands.

Starvation

Starvation can be one of the reasons why snakes become overstressed and try to eat themselves. If you haven’t provided enough food to your captive snake, he may get stressed and assume his tail as prey.Starvations can easily cause stress-induced hallucinations in snakes. A 2020 study found that hunger can increase cannibalism and decrease anti-predatory behavior in several animals. Hence, don’t let the snake starve and become stressed.If you’re a snake caretaker in a zoo or private clinic, make sure you provide the snake with abundant food.

Too Much Darkness

Too much darkness can cause stress in snakes. Snakes who can’t distinguish between light and dark get overstressed trying to know whether it’s day or nighttime. Not knowing the time of the day can be very disorienting for the snakes.

Terrarium/room Size

It’s crucial to provide snakes with vast space where they can stretch and roam around. Snakes feel ill if they’re crammed into a small room or terrarium. The room/terrarium should be wide enough to let a snake stretch out entirely.

Reduced Eyesight During Shedding

Another reason behind why snakes eat themselves can be confusion created by reduced eyesight during shedding. According to scientists, snakes’ vision diminishes when they shed their outer skin layer. Snakes periodically (4-12 times per year) shed their outer skin layer around the year.In addition to reduced eyesight, snakeskin might also release the smell of previous meals during the shedding process.The meal-like-smell can create a false alarm and confuse the snake to think that shedding skin is a meal or prey. In such a case, the snakes might try to eat the partially shed skin and end up consuming their own tail.

Aggression

Snakes are solitary creatures who like to stay in their own calm and cozy place. Being in captivity, snakes sometimes get more aggressive. They mistake their own tails for that of a predator. Snakes aren’t fond of good company.The size-structured cannibalism is common in snakes where big snakes eat small snakes. When snakes are captive in a small room or terrarium, they are unable to stretch out entirely.When they curl to adjust themselves into the room, they end up thinking of their tails as predatory snakes. The aggressive snake can easily get triggered, attacking its tail.