Snake Bites Its Own Body AFTER Being Decapitated


Danielle Andrew

Editorial Intern

951 Snake Bites Its Own Body AFTER Being Decapitated
Northern Copperhead. Public Health Image Library

Yup, this video is as crazy as it sounds - a Copperhead snake was decapitated (for unknown reasons) and went on to bite its own body post mortem, presumably mistaking it for its attacker.

The video doesn't explain why the camera man killed the snake in Huntsville, Alabama, although we would like to hope it was to protect himself - and not out of malice. Although one of the most likely to bite out of the common North American snakes, Copperheads venom rarely kills humans.




Via The Guardian

So how does the snake bite its own headless body after death?


James Murphy, head of Reptile Discovery Centre at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. told National Geographic that, “By the time the snake has lost its head, it’s dead and the basic body functions have ceased, but there is still some reflexive action. In other words, snakes have the capability of causing biting and injecting venom even after the head has been severed, even though it is dead.”

Steven Beaupré, a biology professor at the University of Arkansas told that “snakes in general are well known for retaining reflexes after death. These eerie post-mortem movements are fuelled by the ions, or electrically charged particles, which remain in the nerve cells of a snake for several hours after it dies. When the nerve of a newly dead snake is stimulated, the channels in the nerve will open up, allowing ions to pass through. This creates an electrical impulse that enables the muscle to carry out a reflexive action, like a bite.”

There have been a few cases of people being bit by a severed snakes head – a man in Washington State in 2007 decapitated a rattle snake, only to be bitten by the head as he bent down to clear it up.

Snakes don’t stop being badass even after death.