Dasypeltinae

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dasypeltinae

 

egg-eating snakes, a subfamily of Colubridae. Body length, up to 80 cm. The lower processes of the anterior body vertebrae (there are 24–26 of them) are greatly enlarged and protrude like wedges through the wall into the esophagus cavity. Dasypeltinae feed on bird eggs, which they swallow whole. When the egg reaches the esophagus, the snake bends sharply; the vertebrae processes break the eggshell and its liquid contents pass into the stomach. After a period of time a lump of broken shells is expelled through the mouth.

There are two genera, each with one species. The African egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis sea bra) is found in tropical and southern Africa; the Indian egg-eating snake (Elachistodon westermanni) is found in the northeastern part of the Indian peninsula.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.