Centipede Eats Juvenile Nose-Horned Viper From Inside Out

April 17, 2014

A juvenile nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes), apparently ate more than its body could accommodate as scientists on Golem Grad island in Macedonia, discovered a dead centipede (Scolopendra cingulata) protruding out of the viper's stomach. Upon further examination, the scientists found the dead snake was eaten from the inside out by the now predatory centipede, which also died, apparently succumbing from "chemical or mechanical damage to the predator’s digestive organs."

The total length of the viper was 20.3 centimeters while the centipede measured out at 15.4 centimeters. The centipede after having devoured the insides of the viper, weighed in at 4.8 grams while the viper weighed 4.2 grams.

nose horned viper gets devoured by centipede

Photo by Dragan Arsovski et. al.

Figure 1. A Head of S. cingulata protruding out of the lower abdomen of the snake. B Ventral side of dead V. ammodytes with S. cingulata protruding from its lower abdomen. C V. ammodytes and S. cingulata next to a measuring tape.

According to the scientists, nose-horned vipers usually prey on small mammals, reptiles, including other snakes, and birds. Juveniles on the island have been observed feeding on lizards and centipedes. In this case, the scientists believe that the snake underestimated the size and the strength of the centipede, which are known to be strong predators in their own right.  They believe that the centipede was eaten alive and ate its way to freedom, almost making in out alive before to succumbing.

The field study can be read the Ecologica Montenegrina website.

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