Tigers are apex predators. They live in a variety of places and eat a variety of foods. They typically eat fish, birds, and mammals. Some tiger species consume exotic prey like monkeys, bears, tapirs, etc. Nevertheless, do tigers eat snakes?
Tigers would sometime attack a snake out of curiosity. However, in extreme prey scarcity, such as those following cyclone attacks, a hungry tiger will choose anything edible, including snakes.
Do tigers eat snakes?
Yes, tigers can eat snakes. However, snakes are not the most wanted prey on their menu. There are several reasons why a tiger would choose a different prey other than a snake. Some of the reasons are listed as follows,
- Tigers need around 100 pounds of food per day. Whereas snakes can only weigh up to 18 to 20 pounds. Some pythons can grow up to 100 pounds as an adult. Nevertheless, the tiger would prefer a larger mammal that requires less effort to kill and can provide more meat at the same time.
- Snakes are venomous and can kill a tiger with a single bite. Many reports in the wild have proved that snakes can poison tigers. Other big cats, such as lions, are also not safe in front of snake venom.
- Tiger hunting skills do not fit for hunting a snake. Tigers rely greatly on their jaw power and would bite and break the neck of their prey. On the contrary, snakes have smaller heads and no real necks. Hence, it is more like awkward prey for the tiger.
Though a tiger would generally not prefer hunting down a snake, it has to attack one in the event of food scarcity.
For example, shortly after the recent hit of cyclone Aila in the western parts of the Sunderbans, an old tiger was discovered dead by the forest officials. After the post-mortem of the dead beast, it was discovered that the tiger had eaten one king cobra and one commonly found snake.
Scientists believe this kind of unusual behavior is seen in the old tigers who cannot hunt anymore or in the young and hungry tigers when prey is extremely scarce.
How does a tiger hunt down a dangerous snake?
Tigers and snakes both are top predators. They both can be injured in the fighting, and both can die. The hunting skills of a tiger are pretty useless in its fight with a snake.
In the case of hunting a snake, the tiger doesn’t have the advantage of an open neck to bite on. Generally, a tiger would bite and break the neck of its prey and strangle it to death.
However, snakes don’t have open throats like the ones a tiger would prefer. Hence, if a tiger is trying to attack a big snake such as a python, it would need to use its long and sharp claws and try to injure the reptile as much as possible. In this process, the tiger also needs to watch out for the deadly coiling of the snake.
In contrast, the python has only one option to win this fight: to try and coil around the attacking tiger. Thus, it can choke it to death.
Tigers can hunt and consume snakes. However, they don’t usually do so. They only hunt a snake when necessary, and their life depends on it.
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