Strange snake attacks often make the news, but a kingsnake in Pennsylvania is getting headlines for actually trying to swallow its own tail.
Yes, rescuers had to save the kingsnake from eating itself.
Video of the awkward moment was posted Friday on Facebook by the Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary in Pennsylvania, and it shows the snake’s head chewing and swallowing its tail.
Jesse Rothacker of Forgotten Friend says in the video that it’s not unusual to see an eastern kingsnake bite itself by accident, but he’s never seen one keep chewing. The video has been viewed 42,000 times.
“They will sometimes see their own tail, they’ll think it’s snake, they’ll take a bite out of it and they’ll realize they bit themselves,” he says in the video.
“But today, well, we’re going to see a kingsnake that, I don’t know, might not have done very well on the SATs. ... He did not just nibble on himself. This poor kingsnake is actually in the process of swallowing his own tail.”
Stopping the meal-in-progress was not easy, because kingsnakes have hinged jaws which lock on their prey, Rothacker says in the video. The only way to stop the swallowing is to tap the snake on the nose to make it let go, he said.
In the minutes that follow, Rothacker can be seen in the video slowly pulling nearly 10 inches of the snake out of its mouth.
Kingsnakes can grow to about 7 feet in the eastern United States and are known for eating other snakes, including venomous snakes like copperheads and rattlesnakes, according to HerpsofNC.org.
They’re not harmful to humans “but may bite and release a foul musk when first captured,” says the site.
Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary is a 15-year-old nonprofit in Elm, Pennsylvania, that rescues unwanted reptiles and tries to find them new homes, according to its Facebook page.