Tiny world record holder snake can eat monster meals thanks to unique trait

A tiny snake blows huge pythons out of the water with its ability to eat enormous things relative to its size.

The size of what the Gans' egg-eater can consume is mind-blowing, even compared to the man-eating pythons.

The non-venomous African snake can open its gob to such an extent that it can swallow birds' eggs, amphibians and rodents whole – despite being extremely thin and only growing up to 40 inches long.

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This is all thanks to special stretchy skin between its jawbones.

A report published in theJournal of Zoologyon August 8 detailed the snake's ability to scoff whopping meals, with lead author Bruce Jayne saying: "They seem to be the world record holder for the size of their gape and their overall size.”

Speaking toLive Science, the biologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati added: "Their ability is even more extreme than Burmese pythons'."

Compared to snakes classified as "generalists" like the black rat snake, the Gans’ can eat prey three or four times their jaw size.

Jayne ran tests on the Gans’ to determine whether it has the largest gape of any snake relative to its size – and the answer appears to be yes.

During the tests the snake was observed eating a quail’s egg, contorting its spine to crack the egg and eventually regurgitating the shell.

The Gans' doesn't have much in the way of teeth, but this is understood to aid it with its style of eating as nothing gets in the way. The study found its lack of teeth also "helps the liquid contents of the egg not to be expelled".

"Swallowing a relatively benign object that is hard and smooth is difficult to do," Jayne said.

"Having teeth would cause [the egg's contents] to splash out [of its mouth] if it's punctured by needle-like structures like teeth.”

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