Can A Snake Choke

Can A Snake Choke? 12 Things May Surprise You!

It is very rare for a snake to choke on its food. If your snake has trouble breathing, it could die even if it doesn’t eat.

Snakes have a special tube called the glottis that helps them breathe even when their esophagus is full of big prey.

Many snakes can open their jaws to 130 degrees and eat animals that are much bigger than them.

Even though choking is unlikely, big prey can be dangerous in other ways. Scientists who study snakes, called ophiologists, say that the glottis lets snakes breathe freely while they eat.

The glottis is a tube made of tissue that connects the snake’s windpipe to the bottom of its mouth.

The glottis is usually closed, but it helps the snake eat when its mouth is full. People think it’s rude to stuff their mouths full of food, but snakes do it all the time.

What is Choking?

People and other mammals choke when something gets stuck in the throat and blocks the windpipe, making it impossible to breathe.

When it’s hard to breathe, the body quickly runs out of oxygen, which can be fatal.

Snakes have a unique anatomy. Most of the time, they don’t chew their food. Instead, they use chemicals to break it down. They can eat whole foods because their jaws open wide and their bodies are flexible.

When a snake tries to eat something that is too big for it, things can go wrong quickly.

Can A Snake Choke

In this case, the snake will try to spit out the animal it has caught.

If it can’t get the big thing out of the way, the trapped prey may perish.

What if there’s too much food?

One of two things can happen when a snake eats something that is too big for it.


Most of the time, the snake will try to throw up what it has eaten.

People often think of regurgitation as vomiting. There is a small difference, though.

If the snake decides before the food gets to its stomach that it doesn’t want it, it will use contractions to get rid of it. Food that is regurgitated often keeps its original shape and can be recognized as belonging to the animal that ate it.

When a snake throws up, the food it ate goes back into its stomach.

It will only be half understood and look like a mess. Regurgitation is a normal reaction that is easy to recognize.

But vomiting can be dangerous, and you may need to take the snake and the object it threw up to a veterinarian.


The worst thing that could happen is for a snake to burst open if it eats something bigger than it can digest.

Even though this doesn’t happen very often with pet snakes, it has been seen in the wild.

A python was found with the tail of an alligator sticking out of its stomach. The snake tried to eat an alligator that was over six feet long.

The snake’s body couldn’t handle the pressure, so it split open and died.

One snake, though, has been said to have eaten a centipede.

The centipede bit and scratched its way through the snake, leaving the side of the snake open.

Most of the time, snakes can figure out how big their prey is. But sometimes they are wrong in what they decide.

Pet snakes don’t have many food options, so they’ll eat whatever you give them.

What Happens when a Snake Eats a Big Animal?

There are two things that could happen:

  • Regurgitation
  • Bursting
If the meal is too big, the snake will notice. Most of the time, the snake would throw up the animal and then look for another meal.

The process that snakes use to spit out their food is called regurgitation. It’s similar to a person puking.

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Even when things are at their worst, a snake can burst.

The idea is that the size of the alligator the python ate caused its stomach to burst. The alligator was six feet long. When people saw it, the alligator’s tail was sticking out of the python’s stomach, which meant that the python had already eaten it.

Rarely, a snake will eat a living creature that is big enough to fight its way out. This can be seen best when a young snake eats a centipede.

Even though it wasn’t as big as the snake, the centipede was still big enough to get out. The snake probably split open because the centipede chewed its way through its stomach.

Snakes can figure out how big their prey is. But they can make mistakes. They don’t always know how to catch their prey. The snakes have no other choice but to eat what their masters give them.

Can Snakes Suffocate while Eating?

No, snakes don’t choke on what they eat. Suffocation happens when a living thing can’t breathe. People and other animals both breathe through their noses, but there is a big difference between them.

In people, the esophagus comes after the trachea, or windpipe. When a person swallows food, the trachea closes, and the food goes to the esophagus and then to the stomach.

People choke when this food goes into the wrong pipe or the trachea. It happens when someone tries to both breathe and swallow at the same time.

When you swallow, the trachea should be closed, but it will open if you try to talk. People shouldn’t talk and chew at the same time because of this.

Snakes will never do something like that. The tube that helps it breathe has its own opening. The glottis is the name for it. As the snake eats, the food will go into its throat and get stuck there.

Normally, the food would have kept the snake from getting enough air to breathe. But since its glottis looks like a tube, the snake pushes this tube out of the way so it can eat.

While it eats, the snake breathes through its glottis. There has never been a case where food got into the glottis and caused someone to stop breathing. The snake’s trachea opens at the glottis, which lets it breathe in air and oxygen.

Signs of Overfed and Choking Snake

If your snake is getting too much food, it will be overweight or obese. in both the US and Canada. If they feel heavy because they are overweight, they may have trouble moving around, making it hard for them to do the things they usually do.

On the other hand, if your snake is choking, you must act quickly because it is fatal. Food that makes them choke may also block their airways, making it hard for them to breathe properly.

They might gag or cough to get rid of the food, which is often mixed with mucus. If their food isn’t clean, they might not want to eat or drink, which can cause them to become dehydrated.

Common Causes of Overfed Snakes

1.   Feeding on a daily basis

Because snakes have a slow metabolism, it takes them days to fully digest a single meal. If you feed your snake every day, the food will just build up in their stomachs, making them very fat.

2.   The size of the food is too big

Even though snakes can eat big animals, they sometimes choke on their food because it doesn’t move through their stomach easily. It is very important to watch your snake eat so that you can save it if it starts to choke.

3.   Digestive problems

Since snakes use chemicals to digest their food, a snake with digestive problems is more likely to keep food in its stomach for longer.

If you don’t figure out what’s wrong with the snake’s stomach, you can keep feeding it even though it still has food in its stomach.

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This can cause them to eat too much and cause other problems.

Common Causes of Choking Snake

1.   Respiratory Illnesses

When your snake is suffering from respiratory illnesses, there is a high possibility of choking because they have constricted airways due to the disease that makes it difficult for them to swallow and constrict their prey, especially if it is livestock or animal.

2.   Swallowing large prey

Large animals don’t scare them. They have been seen eating cats, dogs, pigs, and other domesticated animals with rough skin or feathers, like those with spikes, thorns, and so on. Snakes can open their mouths wider to fit the size of their food.

Because the prey fights to stay alive, there is a good chance that the prey will choke if it is still alive when it is swallowed.

3.   Give them cleaned prey

In the wild, they would eat raw prey with feathers and fur. In captivity, don’t give them prey that still has feathers or fur on it.

This will keep them from having trouble swallowing. When a piece of prey gets stuck in their stomachs, it can cause them to choke.

When Can A Snake Suffocate?

Even though it is very rare that your snake will choke or suffocate because of food, there are a few situations in which a snake could choke or even suffocate.

Respiratory Issues

If your snake has trouble breathing, its airways could close and cause it to suffocate.

Can A Snake Choke

Because of these problems, it can be hard for the snake to catch or swallow its prey.

If the snake eats a big meal, its narrow airways could become even more blocked, making it suffocate.

Prey That is Not Clean

In their natural habitats, snakes eat their prey whole.

From the head to the tail, everything is included, even the feathers and hair.

On the other hand, a snake with a respiratory illness might find it hard to eat prey with feathers and fur.

Instead, you could give it cleaned prey, which is usually meat and bones.

This will make it less likely that someone will suffocate.

Can Snakes Hurt Themselves by Eating Something Big?

They can, for sure. They are going to die. Some of them are going to go off. One example is an x-ray of a snake that ate a house gecko and then died.

The incident happened at a research centre in Brazil. The researchers got the snake while it was still alive. They left it alone, and in its cage, it ate a gecko. The researchers came back the next day and found the snake dead.

It looks like it tried to throw up but didn’t succeed. One side of the snake’s stomach had burst. The researchers gave the snake an x-ray, which showed that a gecko was living inside of it.

The food was just too small for the snake. Researchers said it is common knowledge that some snakes die when they try to eat a big meal.

They also said that it mostly affects young people who think they are better than they really are. Snakes often have to eat big meals because they can’t find anything smaller.

Snake owners also know that they shouldn’t give them things that are too big. Pet owners say that snakes will throw up a meal that is too big.

But a mouse is too big to fit down a snake’s throat, so it can get stuck there. If this happens, the snake will have a lot of problems.

Most snakes in captivity will eat whatever their owner gives them because they are hungry, so the owner must be responsible.

Can a Snake Rip its Mouth while Swallowing?

No, it’s not going to happen. The jaws of a snake have more than one joint and can open wider. Snakes can’t move their jaws, despite what most people think.

A snake won’t eat anything that is too big for its mouth. When a snake tries to eat something too big for its mouth, it will spit it out and look for something smaller.

How to Avoid Overfeeding Snakes

  • Feed your pet regularly. Because snakes’ metabolisms are slow, you need to stick to a feeding schedule, especially when feeding an adult snake. You might need to feed the young fish more often, but in smaller amounts.
  • Give them the right amount to eat. How much food you give your snake depends on how old it is, how big it is, and how much it weighs. Since you don’t feed your snake every day, you should make sure that the food you give it is enough to keep it alive for a few days or weeks. Because they are growing, young snakes need to eat more often.
  • In the worst cases, when the snake has already eaten food or prey that is too big for it, a veterinarian will take it out of the snake’s body within hours. The snake will be put to sleep, and an endotracheal tube will be used to lubricate the prey as it is put back in the snake’s mouth. Because this method is dangerous, it is only used when the snake’s life is in danger.
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How to Avoid Snake Choking

  • Check out how big their food is. As a general rule, if you give them food, the biggest part of their body should be about the same size as the food, but they can still eat food that is a little bit bigger.
  • Check out how the food feels. If you give them a whole animal made of feathers or fur, they should be able to eat it without any trouble.
  • Give them frozen or already-killed animals. If you keep your snake in a cage, giving it live food is dangerous, especially if it could choke on it. Because the prey will fight for its life as it goes down the snake’s throat, it may try to hurt the snake, which could cause it to get hurt. It is better to give them pre-killed or thawed food that is easy for the snake to eat and swallow.

Can A Snake Choke

Tips to Avoid Over Feeding and Choking the Snake

  • You must be aware of how much your snake can eat. Snakes can eat animals that are bigger than them, but when you feed them, make sure the size of the food is only slightly bigger than the snake’s head.
  • Make a board or a notepad where you can write down when you intend to feed your snake so you can keep track of when they last ate.Adults can only eat once every two weeks. Children can eat three or two times a week, depending on how much food they have.
  • Have a veterinarian check on them regularly. Overfeeding and choking can be caused by more than just the amount and size of food. Snakes can also get sick, which gives you an idea of how bad things are for them.
  • Don’t be afraid to call a vet for advice if you don’t know how much food to give your snake. They can tell you how much you should offer.


Because they have a glottis, snakes don’t choke when they eat big things. A snake’s glottis is a tube that goes from its trachea to its mouth.

The snake pulls out this glottis as it eats. So, even if the snake’s esophagus gets blocked, it still has a way to breathe. Snakes often think their prey is bigger than it really is.

If they eat something that is too big for them, they either throw it back up or die. There have been reports of snakes bursting when the food they eat is too big.

Princy Hoang
See more articles in this category: Snakes

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