Brand New Snake Species Found After Being Pulled Out of Another Snake’s Stomach

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: November 1, 2023
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All discoveries of new species are exciting but not all of them are glamorous. This is one of the most bizarre discoveries to be reported. Not only is this a new species but it is an entirely new genus of colubroid snake. It was discovered in the isolated highlands of western Chiapas in Mexico. The new species has some unique characteristics which means that it can’t be placed in any known genus. The other unique thing about this discovery is where the snake was discovered. The scientific paper reporting the find described it as ‘consumed’. So, what exactly does that mean?

How Was the New Snake Species Found?

This snake was discovered, partly digested, inside another snake! It was pulled out of the other snake’s belly. This happened in 1976 and ever since then, scientists have been looking for a living example of the species without success. So, the scientists decided to go ahead and publish their findings anyway, naming the new species Cenaspis aenigma which translates as ‘mysterious dinner’.

What Are Colubroid Snakes?

Colubroid snakes are snakes in the Colubridae family which is the largest of the snake families. It contains around 2000 species and many of them are venomous although only a few are considered dangerous to humans and their venom has not been studied extensively. Some well-known colubroid snakes are keel snakes, indigo snakes, and wood snakes. Many of them are colorful and are very attractive animals. Several of them are kept as pets. Some popular pet colubroid snakes include the corn snake, the rat snake, and the milk snake.

Do Snakes Normally Eat Other Snakes?

Yes, several species of snakes prey on other snakes. One notable example is the king cobra. This is a large and intelligent snake that lives in southern China, India, and Southeast Asia. They prey on Asian rat snakes, dhamans, and pythons. The common king snake is a North American snake that can eat rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths. They are unbothered by the venom of the snakes and constrict their prey to subdue them. Another example is the Eastern indigo snake. These are long, black, non-venomous snakes that are a native species of the southeast of the US. They also eat copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes and may have some resistance to their venom.

Do Snakes Normally Swallow Prey Whole?  

timber rattlesnake

Snakes swallow their prey whole!

©Joe McDonald/

Snakes cannot tear up their food and are left with no choice but to swallow it whole. However, this presents them with a problem! They have to get it inside their mouth. They do this by locating the head of their prey – all snakes eat their prey headfirst because it makes swallowing the limbs (if there are any) so much easier. The snake’s jaws expand until they have taken the entire animal into its mouth. It then moves its jaws forward and to the side moving one mandible at a time. Snakes have powerful jaw and throat muscles, and they secrete saliva which moistens the food item making it easier to swallow!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Radiant Reptilia/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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