Viper Gets Partially Eaten by a Centipede it Swallowed

Posted on April 18, 2014

Viper eaten by ingested centipede

A juvenile nose-horned viper swallowed a centipede only to have the centipede eats its way out of its lower abdomen. Both of the creatures perished. The centipede managed to make it partially out of the snake before dying.

NBC News reports that the discovery was made on the island of Golem Grad (aka Snake Island) in Macedonia by Ljiljana Tomović, a biology professor at the University of Belgrade. Tomovic and her colleagues write about (PDF) the snake and centipede discovery in the journal Ecologica Montenegrina. The journal article is called, "Two fangs good, a hundred legs better: juvenile viper devoured by an adult centipede it had ingested."

The scientists dissected the snake and found that the centipede was nearly as long as the viper. The dissection also revealed the absence of the snake's visceral organs. They researchers say this led them to "suppose that the prey caused chemical or mechanical damage to the predator's digestive organs."

The researchers note that the large centipede, Scolopendra cingulata, is a fearsome predator in its own right. The say, "In general, this invertebrate is extremely tough: it is very hard to kill a full-grown Scolopendra (personal observation). Therefore, we cannot dismiss the possibility that the snake had swallowed the centipede alive, and that, paradoxically, the prey has eaten its way through the snake, almost reaching its freedom."

Photo: Arsovski et al., Ecologica Montenegrina