Snake Escapes After Being Eaten By A Larger Snake


Stephen Luntz

Stephen has a science degree with a major in physics, an arts degree with majors in English Literature and History and Philosophy of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication.

Freelance Writer

653 Snake Escapes After Being Eaten By A Larger Snake
Dick Mulder. A small snake emerges from a larger one that had recently eaten it

An extraordinary photograph shows a snake escaping after being eaten by a larger serpent. The smaller snake was fortunate that its predator fell prey to a pet cat before it had been digested.

One way or another, we're all familiar with songs where one predator gets topped by another, but we don't usually expect to see it in action to the extent that Dick Mulder did while living in Corfu, Greece. 


"My wife, who didn't like the idea of a dead snake on her veranda, screeched that the snake wasn't dead—she saw it moving," Mulder told National Geographic. "I reassured her that it was really dead."

When Mulder saw that the snake was indeed moving, he did what any right-thinking inhabitant of the 21st century would do: he went to grab a camera. By the time he got back, a small snake—later identified as Dahl's whip snake (Platyceps najadum)—had its head sticking out. Mulder then witnessed it struggle the rest of its way to freedom, before slithering off to safety.

"As far as I know it avoided its savior, Demon the Cat," Mulder commented.

Mulder's story eventually made its way to Andrew Gray of Manchester Museum, an expert in Corfu's reptiles. Gray blogged about the large four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), intrigued as to how the smaller whip snake not only survived, but managed to turn itself around so that it could emerge head first. Snakes usually prefer to consume their prey head on, which Gray says is because they are used to eating prey such as rodents “that have legs that can get in the way.”


Gray says he has only heard of one previous case of a snake escaping after being eaten by another, and in that case, the eater was shot by hunters and the snake inside used the bullet hole as an escape route. On the other hand, there are numerous accounts of other creatures escaping after being eaten by snakes.

Gray remains uncertain whether the four-lined snake just wasn't choosy this time about which end to start with, or if the whip snake was “small enough and agile enough” to turn around inside its nemesis.

Either way, Gray says the smaller snake must have been a very recent meal, since too much time in contact with the larger snake's digestive fluids would have been fatal. 

  • tag
  • snake,

  • eaten alive,

  • photograph,

  • four-lined