Snake Eats Centipede: Photo Shows Unfinished Meal When It Dies

A small and very rare Florida snake bit off more than it could chew recently and was seen dead in a state park with half of its meal still visible.

A visitor to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park recently came across the snake with a half-swallowed centipede sticking out of its mouth and shared some photos of the creature with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) identified the snake in a Facebook post as Tantilla oolitica, also known as the crowned rock snake. The Florida Wildlife Agency said there were only about 26 crowned rock snakes.

The FWRI said centipedes are a fairly common meal for most types of crown snakes, but this is the first time they’ve seen a rock snake attempt the diet.

And in this case, he says, the snake appears to have tried to eat a giant juvenile centipede, since it appears to be more than half swallowed with seven segments of its body still visible.

Adult giant centipedes can actually grow to the same size as the snake, which typically reaches a length of around 25cm.

Crown snakes are venomous and immobilize their prey, although FWRI said they are too small to bite or pose a danger to humans. Centipedes are also venomous and their bites are painful to humans, FWRI said.

Rim rock snakes aren’t seen very often, as they typically burrow under debris, rocks, or in cavities in limestone, FWRI said. The last crowned rock snake sighting was reported in 2015, and before that, two snakes were found inside a dead coral snake in Key Largo in 2009.

Both creatures should be placed in the collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Florida has designated the crowned rock snake as an endangered species.

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