Weird Nature

Animals That Devour Their Prey In Just One Bite 

Beth Elias
Updated December 11, 2017 10.6k views 11 items

In between all of the fuzzy animals doing adorable things, like goats riding on ponies and hippos befriending tortoises, the animal kingdom is downright ruthless. While Fiona the premature hippo is out being cute as can be, there are animals who wholly devour their prey in one bite. Yes, that's right, animals eating their victims in one big nasty gulp.

Snakes are the OG of swallowing their prey whole (Kaa from the Jungle Book, anyone?), but there are plenty of other surprising animals that can eat things in one bite. It's probably a good idea not to be eating yourself while learning about these quick eaters.  

Snakes Do Not Mess Around
Snakes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Animals That Devour Their Prey In Just One Bite
Photo:  By T71024 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons/

Anyone who has seen National Geographic has probably seen a snake swallowing something massive. It's possible because snakes don't have jaws, right? Wrong! Snakes don't have even have jaws that can dislocate; they have ligaments that can stretch to a pretty decent capacity. 

What's truly remarkable is what allows a snake to actually digest whole prey. A group of scientists took X-rays and did some testing while a Burmese python swallowed and digested an alligator. When a snake begins to feed, it kicks off a series of biological reactions: increased heart rate, increased metabolism, increased enzyme activity, and the stomach pH drops. The researchers found that within a week, the alligator had been completely digested. 

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Crocodile is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Animals That Devour Their Prey In Just One Bite
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

Though pythons have swallowed crocodiles and alligators, crocs have similar biological mechanisms in place to swallow and digest whole prey. Crocodiles have something that snakes don't to help them gobble up their prey in one fell swoop: gizzard stones. Crocs have gizzard stones in their stomachs to help digest things that are not easily digestible, like bones. This is just part of why they can swallow prey that's up to 23% of their body mass

Because crocs can eat so much in one meal, they're able to go long periods of time without eating if they must. It's likely that that attribute contributed to the longevity of crocs - they've been around for 80 million years

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Frog is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Animals That Devour Their Prey In Just One Bite
Photo: Yamanaka Tamaki/Flickr

No, seriously. Frogs can eat snakes. An Australian tree frog was caught on camera swallowing a snake whole (yes, this is as amazing as it sounds). 

Though frogs aren't eating prey that's massively bigger than them, like the olive python, they still swallow their prey whole. It's not uncommon for a larger frog to eat a mouse whole, for example. Some bullfrogs have also eaten other frogs. No one is safe from that guy. 

So, how can frogs do this? It makes sense that a snake has muscles to crush and push down prey. But frogs clearly don't have that capability. They are, however, pushing down food -with their eyes. When swallowing, its eyes retract downward towards the esophagus, effectively pushing down prey.

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Owl is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Animals That Devour Their Prey In Just One Bite
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

Get rid of any pop culture reference to owls that you can think of right now. Owl in Winnie the Pooh? Gone. Hedwig in Harry Potter? Gone. The owl who eats Tootsie Pops? Gone. The Hooters Owl? Get rid of that guy, too. 

That lil' guy in the picture may look adorable, but rest assured, he is a stone-cold killer deep down. Owls will kill basically whatever - rabbits, fish, pretty much any small mammal. Owls can't chew, so the prey goes down the hatch whole. Owls don't have a crop, which is a small sac in the beak that some birds have to store food for later - so they swallow every bit of mouse, insect, or whatever is on the menu that evening.

Or, just watch this video of an owl swallowing a rabbit. Long story short, you don't want to mess with owls. 

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