For this reason boa constrictors can breathe whereas squeezing the life out of prey

Brown University biologists X-rayed boa constrictors to determine how they manage to breathe while squeezing prey to death.

Enlarge / Brown College biologists X-rayed boa constrictors to find out how they handle to breathe whereas squeezing prey to dying. (credit score: John Capano)

Watching a boa constrictor seize and eat its prey is kind of one thing. First, the snake strikes and latches onto the prey with its enamel, then it coils its physique tightly across the poor creature and slowly squeezes the life from it. The constrictor cuts off blood circulate to the center and mind. Then the boa unhinges its jaw and swallows the prey entire. The boa makes use of its muscle mass to maneuver its prey down the size of its physique to the abdomen, the place the unfortunate varmint is digested over the following 4 to 6 days.

Boa constrictors largely eat varied medium-sized rodents, lizards, and birds. They’ve additionally been recognized to chow down on even bigger prey, together with monkeys, wild pigs, and ocelots. No matter what’s on the menu, how do the snakes nonetheless handle to breathe as they crush an animal to dying, since that constriction additionally uncomfortably squeezes the boas’ personal ribs? In contrast to mammals (together with people), boa constrictors don’t have a separate diaphragm. They rely solely on the movement of their ribs to breathe.

Biologists at Brown College and Dickinson Faculty performed a collection of experiments to seek out out extra, they usually described their leads to a brand new paper revealed within the Journal of Experimental Biology. Boa constrictors, they found, have a outstanding skill to selectively use totally different sections of their rib cage for respiration throughout constriction. The reptiles primarily use the far finish of their lungs as a bellows to drag in air every time the ribs nearer to the top are obstructed.

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