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Snakes Motabolism Essay Research Paper Snakes MetabolismEating

Snakes Motabolism Essay, Research Paper ?Snakes Metabolism Eating, or ingesting food, is one of the main characteristics of the animal kingdom. Most of these animals metabolize their food at a rapid passe. But the metabolism of a

Snakes Motabolism Essay, Research Paper

?Snakes Metabolism

Eating, or ingesting food, is one of the main characteristics of the animal kingdom.

Most of these animals metabolize their food at a rapid passe. But the metabolism of a

snake is much slower then many other animals. This is due to one major factor. That is

the temperature in which their bodies are. The metabolism works the same as other

animals. It is just slower in a snake. The metabolism needs to be slower since the snake

doesn?t eat very often. This paper will prove that a snakes metabolism is slow because of

4 different reasons: A. behavior B. evolution C. temperature D. lifestyle.

Most animals (including humans) eat at least once a day. If we go longer then

about a week we could die of starvation. This is because our metabolic rate is fast. It

burns whatever food we eat to make energy. When there is no more food to burn then we

need to eat again. We do not store food for long periods of time either. Snakes on the

other hand don?t have to eat half as much as we do. They can eat about once a month and

still be well fed. Snakes can even go for a full year without food. Of course this wouldn?t

be very healthy, but they would be able to survive. The reason snake can do this is

because they have a much slower metabolic rate. They can store their food for much

longer. When food is burned/metabolized it makes heat energy for the organism to live.

Snakes can get this energy from basking in the sun. this is why they can go longer with

out food. (Internet source-houston.rr.com)

“Metabolism” in a biochemical sense is burning food in slow motion. If you set

fire to food, you get ash (residual carbon, salts and metals), carbon dioxide, water vapor

(both lost as gasses), and a *whole* lot of energy in the form of heat. Metabolism is the

same thing done very slowly. The body reduces food items to water, carbon dioxide,

waste products, and a *whole* lot of energy. The difference is that, by doing it a step at

a time, very slowly, living things can (a) trap some of that energy in a form (usually

adenosine triphosphate or ‘ATP’) which can be used as needed to drive chemical reactions

inside cells and (b) use some of the food breakdown products to make proteins, DNA,

cell wall materials and other things the body needs for maintenance and growth.

However, the process isn’t all that efficient. and a lot of the energy is still lost as

heat.(Toby White)

A snakes whole life (including the metabolism) depends on temperature. They

need to be warm. About 150 million years ago birds, maybe other dinosaurs, and the

fuzzy little things that would later become mammals evolved, at about the same time

(curious, no?) a mechanism for eating much more than would be good for a lizard and

metabolizing it very fast and inefficiently. This biochemical sloppiness generated a lot of

heat and kept them warm all the time. As a result, they could be very much more active

because, within reasonable limits, ALL of the chemical reactions needed to run an animal

work faster at higher temperature. In fact, speed actually doubles with an increase of

about 10 degrees Centigrade. This capacity to generate and regulate internal temperature

is called “endothermy.” Snakes are NOT endotherms. Snakes, lizards, fish — in fact all

living things except birds and mammals — are “ectotherms.” Their temperature rises and

falls with the weather. The huge advantage to this is that they don’t have to eat anything

near as much as an endotherm. Some snakes can easily go months without eating. In fact

the big carnivorous snakes — boas, pythons — typically eat only once a week or so, even

less in colder months. (Internet Source-Dinodata.com)

Snakes are NOT endotherms. Snakes, lizards, fish — in fact all living things

except birds and mammals — are “ectotherms.” Their temperature rises and falls with the

weather. The huge advantage to this is that they don’t have to eat anything near as much

as an endotherm. Some snakes can easily go months without eating. In fact the big

carnivorous snakes — boas, pythons — typically eat only once a week or so, even less in

colder months. (Toby White)

Now this sort of diet doesn’t change the rules of chemistry. Its still very difficult

to move fast enough to catch anything at all, socialize with other snakes, or do whatever

else snakes do in their spare time, at low temperatures. So snakes use behavioral tricks to

regulate temperature. In particular, they bask in the sun to heat up until things are

reasonably toasty, then go about their business for a while until they get slow. Many are

ambush predators. They lie about most of the time in semi-sunny places, with patterns

that make them hard to see near bushes where there is both sun and shade, between rocks,

half buried in leaf litter — that sort of place. They gather energy and wait for dinner to be

delivered to them, in the form of a small animal coming down a game trail. They use that

energy to strike very quickly and kill by swallowing, poison, or constriction — very rarely

with teeth.(Toby White)

So far, this is pretty typical ectotherm behavior and metabolism. Not very

different from carnivorous lizards, frogs, salamanders, or even fish. But snakes are a bit

unique. Unlike all of the above critters, snakes evolved from lizards about the same time

that mammals were developing, maybe 100 million years ago. Their first and favorite

treat (those that don’t live on insects) is mammals. To get to mammals they had to learn

unusual behaviors like night-hunting, underground hunting, and eating really big meals as

mammals got bigger after the dinosaurs died off (65 million years ago). Snakes needed

something more too. So they have evolved a generally higher basal metabolism than most

other ectotherms. In fact, some snakes can develop enough heat to incubate their eggs

with body warmth, like a bird. They can also huddle together underground and make

enough warmth to keep from freezing on cold nights or even over the winter. In fact they

often hibernate over winter like mammals. (Toby White)

A snake has a pretty laid back life style. They eat when the food comes to them

and they bask in the sun all day. They do not like to have to go looking for their food.

This is why they don?t eat a lot. Another reason why they don?t eat a lot is because of the

way they eat. Snakes eat big portions of food but they don?t eat a lot. A decent size snake

like a Burmese python can eat a pig. They do not chew-they just swallow. So the food

just sits in their stomach as stored fat and waits to be used as energy. Since eating (for a

snake) takes a lot of energy, they once again to not eat very often. A snake must constrict

it prey, not including venomous snakes, and then use a mad amount of muscles in its

stomach to push it down to the middle where it can wait to be digested. So the snake

doesn?t eat a lot because of some reasons listed above, thus giving it the slow metabolic

rate characteristic. (Internet source-houston.rr.com)

Some snakes hibernate. And most have to go for long periods of time without

food. This is another reason that the metabolic rate is slower. They need to be able to

store food for a long time so they do not starve. As the paper has mentioned earlier,

snakes do not have to eat hardly as much as other animals. A snake will store its food for

about 3 months. During this time it does not eat or drink. The metabolism goes even

slower then usual during this time. This is because of the cold weather and the fact that

the snake has to store its food for 3 months.(Internet source-herpetology.com)

Every living thing has to go through some sort of eating and producing waste

product cycle. Humans have a high metabolic rate. This means that they eat more and

have fast metabolisms. Snakes are different. They have a slow metabolism. This enables

them to eat less and stay healthy. They needed this characteristic because of the way they

live. Behavior, evolution, temperature, and the life style of the snake are four reasons

why their metabolic rate is slower.

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