Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Hungry snakes, giant kangaroos, bat noses, and more

Giant kangaroo (Michael Long / NHMPL)


Tentacled Snake
(Cheryl Carlin)
Name: The tentacled snake, Erpeton tentaculatus, of Southeast Asia.
Hunts: In the J position.
Exploits: The C-start.
Eats: With very little effort, says Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University. When fish perceive a threat, they reflexively turn away and their bodies form a C, known as a C-start. The J position is the stance a hungry E. tentaculatus assumes (1) with its head at the lower end of the J. If a fish swims by, the snake flexes its body (2) scaring the fish into forming a C and landing it in the snake's mouth (3). It's a rare case of a predator exploiting its prey's best defense.

Learn more about the tentacled snake at the Encyclopedia of Life.

Watch a slow-motion video of a tentacled snake lie in wait and scare its prey into escaping right into its mouth

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