Unseen Passage: Overpowering Prey

Overpowering prey is a challenge for creatures that do not have limbs. Some species like Russell’s viper inject poison. Some others opt for an alternative non-chemical method – rat snakes, for instance, catch and push their prey against the ground, while pythons use their muscle power to crush their prey to death. But snakes can’t be neatly divided into poisonous and non-poisonous categories.

Even species listed as non-poisonous aren’t completely free of poison. The common Sand Boa, for instance, produces secretions particularly poisonous to birds. So the species doesn’t take any chance—it crushes its prey and injects poison as an extra step.

Do vipers need poison powerful enough to kill hundreds of rats with just one drop? After all, they eat only one or two at a time.

While hunting animals try their worst to kill most efficiently, their prey uses any trick to avoid becoming a meal, such as developing immunity to poison. For instance, Californian ground squirrels are resistant to Northern Pacific rattlesnake poison.

Competition with prey is not the only thing driving snakes to evolve more and more deadly poison. Snakes also struggle to avoid becoming prey themselves.

Some snake killers have partial immunity to poison. Famously, mongooses are highly resistant to cobra poison and with their speed and agility, kill snakes fearlessly. It would be the death of cobras as a species if they didn’t evolve a more deadly poison to stop mongooses.

Poison has another important role. It’s an extreme meat softener, specific enzymes break up the insides of the prey. Normally, a reptile depends on the sun’s warm rays to aid digestion.

But I wonder if we cannot use venom in our favour. In remote parts of India, local hospitality often involves leather-tough meat. I chew and chew until my jaw ache. If I spit it out or refuse, our hosts would be offended, I swallow like a python stuffing a deer down its throat and hope I don’t choke. If only I had poison.

Q. Read the questions given below and answer in 30-40 words each:

  1. Russell viper and rat snake have different methods to attack prey. How?
  2. How does Sand Boa kill its prey?
  3. There is a constant tussle between the hunting animal and its prey. Why?
  4. What makes mongoose a snake predator?
  5. What difficulty does the writer face when he is entertained in the remote parts of India?

Answer

  1. Russells viper injects poison whereas rattle snakes catch and push their prey against the ground.
  2. Sand Boa produces secretions particularly poisonous to birds. It crushes its prey and injects poison as an extra step.
  3. The hunting animals try their worst to kill their prey most efficiently but their prey use any trick to avoid becoming a meal.
  4. Mongooses are highly resistant to cobra poison, with their speed and agility, they kill snakes fearlessly, making them a good snake predator.
  5. When entertained in the remote parts of India, the writer finds it difficult to chew leather-tough meat which he swallows down his/her throat like a python.

Q. On the basis of your reading of the above passage, answer the given questions:

  1. For overpowering its prey, a rat snake uses a _____________.
    1. chemical method
    2. non-chemical method
    3. both 1 and 2
    4. non of these
  2. Vipers can eat ____________ rats at a time.
    1. one or two
    2. several
    3. ten
    4. twenty
  3. Which species injects poison as an extra step?
    1. Viper
    2. Cobra
    3. Python
    4. San Boa
  4. Overpowering ____________ is a challenge for creatures that do not have limbs.
    1. a killer
    2. humans
    3. a python
    4. prey
  5. Poison ____________ meat.
    1. enhance taste of
    2. hardens
    3. softens
    4. breaks down
  6. Californian squirrels are ____________ rattlesnake poison.
    1. afraid of
    2. helpless against
    3. resistant to
    4. indifferent to
  7. While hunting animals try their worst to kill:
    1. efficeintly
    2. easily
    3. particularly
    4. featlessly
  8. Snakes also struglle to avoid becomeing ________ themselvs.
    1. killer
    2. predator
    3. prey
    4. deadly
  9. The synonym of the word ‘agility’ is:
    1. lethrgy
    2. swiftness
    3. drowsiness
    4. interlligence
  10. The synonym of the word ‘deadly’ is:
    1. lethal
    2. cruel
    3. violent
    4. brutal
  11. The antonym of the word ‘resistant’ is:
    1. opposing
    2. defiant
    3. susceptiple
    4. unyielding
  12. The antonym of the word ‘remote’ is:
    1. distant
    2. near
    3. isolated
    4. unknown

Answer

  1. non-chemical method
  2. one or two
  3. Sand Boa
  4. prey
  5. softens
  6. resistant to
  7. efficenirtly
  8. prey
  9. swiftness
  10. lethal
  11. susceptiple
  12. near

Q. Find words from the passage which mean the same as:

  1. Another (para 1)
  2. Liquid substances released from glands (para 2)
  3. Particular (para 7)

Answer

  1. alternative
  2. secreation
  3. specific

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