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We’ve all heard the story of Jonah gift swallowed by the whale, and then, along with his father Geppetto, developing a fire so that the whale sneezes them the end … Or something favor that. Every little thing the case, being swallowed whole is a fate that has permeated our mythology and also stories throughout time. However what is the actual usual progression to death when an pet gets swallowed whole? and also are over there any animals outside of more commonly known things like tapeworms that periodically survive the ordeal and also go follow me their funny way, whether by fighting their method out or simply being moved out the other end?

As you could expect, death for creatures swallowed totality depends on what creatures eat them. Several of the most famous pets known for swallowing food whole—snakes—actually kill their prey prior to consuming it, either with venom or constriction. However, in part instances certain animals take your prey straight into your mouths while the biology is quiet alive and kicking. Such creatures include frogs, details fish and also birds, varieties of snake and also even civilization (we’re looking in ~ you, goldfish-swallowing-craze university students).

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One especially creepy instance of a biology that eats that prey totality is the Kinabalu large red leech. This huge annelid/tiny lovecraftian fear preys ~ above a species of gigantic earthworm indigenous to the jungles that Borneo and sucks the whole thing right into its mouth prefer a gigantic piece of spaghetti … being eaten by another giant item of spaghetti.

While over there is some contention amongst experts, it appears these worms are swallowed alive as there have been instances of the leeches having to spit out worms whose size they underestimated, after ~ which point the worm goes on that wiggly way. For this reason what happens to them when inside? the is usually thought the worms die relatively quickly, due to the fact that the stifling confines of the leech’s human body aren’t precisely ideal for the worm’s respiration, leading to it to suffocate long before being converted right into leech dooky.


In part examples, such as with details birds, the predator may attempt to stun or incapacitate that is prey through its mouthparts before swallowing, despite this may simply result in debilitating injuries fairly than death., A mindful trip come the stomach is also a legitimate opportunity in the situation of things prefer frogs and also fish, which frequently push their food to the backs of your mouths with small or no injury before swallowing.

So, supposing an animal’s food survives the foray in the mouth that its predator: what happens to it next? While part might case the strong contractions the the predator’s esophagus is enough to like the animal, anyone who thrown up and seen a fully intact french fry from lunch have the right to attest the esophagial contractions room seldom strong enough to crush food- only solid enough come encourage its pilgrimage down come the stomach.

Once in the stomach, when the most apparent cause of death for animals swallowed alive would be the an effective stomach acid of a predator, it’s typically unlikely that this is walk to reason the death, at the very least not in the flesh melting means occasionally discussed in Hollywood. Rather, many thanks to sphincters—everyone’s favorite selection of muscle—the inner of a stomach is largely bereft that breathable air. Thus, such an atmosphere would likely cause an air-breathing pet to pass out and also dierelatively quickly. Through contrast, it would take much much longer for stomach mountain to eat with the skin or outer surface come the allude where it would do any kind of life threatening damage. Even in the situation of fish gift swallowed alive, the high-acid/low-oxygen contents of the stomach acid and also chime existing in the predator’s digestive tract would likewise cause it come perish from suffocation fairly quickly.

Of course, the next question that’s bound come arise once considering this morbid issue is: exterior of evident creatures like details parasites, can other creatures feasibly make it through being swallowed alive?

It turns out- yes. Because that example, part snails, which have been known to do the long and undignified journey v an animal’s entire digestive tract and come out, Shawshank Redpmetion-style, ~ above the other end.

For example, the Tornatellides boeningi snail that Japan’s Hahajima Island are recognized to have actually a tiny chance that surviving an entire trip with a bird’s digestive device after being eaten. We choose to imagine this process leaves the snail’s shell with a shiny brand-new buff job, though it probably never smells fairly the same.

As come how frequently they survive, Shinichiro Wada and his partner at Tohoku University found that, once these snails were fed come bird types native come Hahajima Island, about 15% that them endured the trip, with among them also giving birth after the journey.


As because that the precise mechanism that allows the snails to survive the trek under the bird’s bowels, this isn’t clear. However, the researchers theorize the snail’s shell, coupled with an capability to seal chin in v a powerful coating of rubber (called an epiphragm), avoids stomach acid from touching the snail. Additionally, the gastropod’s small size ensures that it to meet minimal complications, such as being crushed, as it provides its stinky journey. It’s even hypothesized the this mechanism might even it is in an facet of the snail’s evolution, permitting it to propagate its species about the island via handy transport inside birds. Scientists have actually seen similar phenomena in pond snails consumed by fishes and also birds.

So what around other creatures? Well, in 2012, biologists in east Timor observed a strange, wormlike types of snake, known as a remote snake, arising from the rear finish of a toad. As to how the snake survives such an event, the researchers hypothesize this is because of the creatures overlapping scales, i m sorry made that resistant come damage; that is wormlike shape, which permitted it to crawl v the toad’s bowels; the reality that the toad hadn’t eaten recently, leaving a nice, poop- complimentary intestine because that the snake to rise through; and, finally, the remote snake’s capacity to grow underground with just minimal oxygen.

All the said, regrettably the intrepid remote snake died several hrs after that triumphant emergence, despite it wasn’t really clear why.

Moving on indigenous there, what around animals that possibly attempt at least to fight their method out?

While most creatures have actually the sense to not to gulp down anything alive that has actually sharp spines, claws, or toxins, it simply so happens the there is a type of creature in which such a scenario has actually played out multiple time in the past. Enter the snake eel.

The line eel has actually a barbed tail which it uses to burrow in the sand. However, when consumed by fish, it has actually been it was observed to usage this tail to effort to bore v the stomach of the pet that ate it. However, as much as researchers have the right to tell, this attempts always end up gift in vain together the eel inevitably find itself trapped in the space between the stomach and abdominal muscle wall, wherein it often suffocates, though does in ~ least get a small revenge top top its killer.


Generally, however, together SNAFUs space avoided through the evolution instincts that the predator in question. As soon as it pertains to the highest-evolved of animals, however, that animal’s biggest asset— personality and cost-free thought—sometimes override this safeguard. Go into humans.

For example, in 2016 a drunk man from the Netherlands was coaxed right into swallowing a live catfish. Now, because that those no acquainted with catfish anatomy, these creatures have sharp spines on their pectoral fin (and in some varieties these spines deserve to be rather venomous) provided in self-defense scenarios … such together being swallowed by an inebriated Dutchman.

The fish finished up lodging itself in the masculine throat, and also the poor reveler/zoophage to be rushed to extensive care, vomiting blood, where the siluriform to be subsequently and safely removed. The man lived come experience further parties, and also perhaps swallow other creatures. The fish, however, while properly achieving its goal of extraction, wasn’t so lucky: despite its valiant initiatives to carve its way from the innards that the beast that consumed it, it perished in the fight, likely because of lack of oxygen, or being drowned in cheap dutch beer.

But have there ever before been any happy endings- wherein an animal has safely fought their method out?

Yes.

One such feat the derring-do has been it was observed from the bombardier beetle. This critters have actually the capacity to release a to explode of very irritating chemicals that shoot from their insectoid moneymakers with very high pressure. You can recall how, earlier, we stated that some frogs have tendency to swallow prey without incapacitating it first—well, Shinji Sugiura and also Takuya Sato, researcher at Kobe University, observed instances of frogs spend the beetles, after which point the beetles’ protective mechanisms, once used from the boundaries of the frog’s stomach, would reason the amphibians to regurgitate the beetle. The beetle, in spite of its pilgrimage to the Gastric Hilton, generally remained unharmed after ~ the ordeal.

Even much more impressive is the rough-skinned newt, one amphibian the produces a an effective toxin that has actually the potential to kill any predators foolish enough to disregard the newt’s cautionary orange coloring. The newt’s toxicity is for this reason powerful, in fact, that frogs have been it was observed swallowing the critter, climate succumbing to the toxin so quickly that the newt has actually time to exit through the frog’s mouth before the predator’s cradle juices and also lack the oxygen takes effect.


Moving on native there, the epomis beetle larva has been well-known to take points a step further. In fact, this beetle—and that is nighmarish offspring—are well-known as frog hunters.

So how does a tiny invertebrate hunt down and slowly eat alive a creature many times that is size? In short, the larvae have a tactic of dodging the frog’s tongue prior to being swalloed, climate latching top top the creature, whereby they continue to devour it. In at the very least one instance, however, the frog actually flourished in consuming the larva, whereupon it to be regurgitated. In ~ this point, the food rotate on its diner, got it with its mandibles and also proceeded come feed. Thus, not just surviving the event, but ultimately consuming the biology that swallowed it.

But let’s go earlier to the beginning and talk around Jonah and Pinocchio. Are there any animals that deserve to swallow human being whole and also alive? return there have been some really rare instances of snakes swallowing people, together reptiles have actually a means of incapacitating girlfriend first, greatly through

constriction, so you will do be dead prior to being swallowed, specifically considering that the swallowing process in such instances would most likely take hrs or longer.Crocodiles and sharks again hardly ever consume people, and also in together cases, the prey would certainly be dead very first by being ripped personal or far-reaching damage excellent by the predator’s an effective teeth and jaws. This leaves whales together the only candidate for swallowing people alive. However, the largest pets on the planet, the blue whale, along with the biggest fish, the whale shark, room not equipped to gulp down humans, having actually tiny esophagi which would cause them to choke on us. That pipeline the sperm whale, the largest carnivorous cetacean.

And part experts claim that it may theoretically be possible for a sperm whale come swallow a human being whole, though there room two troubles with this. One is the the sperm whale’s dagger-like teeth would most likely kill the food first, in which case you’d be long dead prior to suffocating in the whale’s number of stomachs. But this suggest is rendered mostly null, as sperm whales only feed deep in ~ the surface ar of the water and would never view humans as prey. So any kind of accidental swallowing would need to derive indigenous a fairly bizarre sequence of events.

That said, over there is a commonly told story that one James Bartley being swallowed through a sperm whale in the late 1800s, after which he was reduced out the the whale by other mariners apparently many hours later. Though his skin had supposedly been bleached white and also his eye rendered blind, he accused survived.

However, in more recent times, most discover this story a little farfetched, offered the particulars, including the excessive amount that time Bartley supposedly spent in the whale’s insides, among other problems with the tale. On optimal of that, there yes, really isn’t much of any kind of hard proof to suggest this in reality occurred, in spite of the story do the rounds earlier in the day. Probably a little bit akin to the legend the the dolphin Pelorus Jack that was a world-wide emotion in his day and also even still widely attributed today because that something he never ever once in reality did, together we tracked down for our video on the subject.

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On the plus side, humans can apparently take heart in the reality that, amongst the multitudes that unpleasant ways we have the right to die, fine never have to worry around being swallowed alive, unless Cthulhu increase from his sunken royal residence beneath the tides come once an ext begin his terrible reign end mankind.

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