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Okay hivemind, riddle me this. Here is a fairly typical video (shared by Carl Zimmer) of a predator engulfing its prey without first killing it. You see this all the time in nature docs. What I want to know is: what happens to the prey? How long does it take for it to die? Does the predator have to contend with a gulletful of struggling prey? Does the prey ever bust out, or does it just sit there going "Yeah, it's a fair cop".
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I have always wondered this myself. The prey must die pretty quickly, but for how long is it just sitting there, in someone's dark little stomach?
 
I think it will suffocate rather quickly. There won't be much oxygen in any stomach...
 
If the fish doesn't get out immediately I'd assume it suffocates. I have seen fish escape before in a store aquarium but that's rare and only happens in the first 2 seconds or less. I am assuming digestive juices damage delicate gills rapidly. They always get re-eaten in an aquarium though.
 
Isn't it good nobody much running around trying to gobble us down?
 
Assuming the prey doesn't first die from the direct action of something secreted in the digestive tract, it would be calculatable by the volume of solution in the stomach (the predatory probably limits this by spitting out excess water), the concentration of oxygen, and the respiratory (is that the right term in fish?) rate of the prey. I don't have figures off the top of my head, but I would speculate that the prey would suffocate rather quickly, and moreso of it struggled. Someone mist have an idea of those figures to give a less qualitative assessment!
 
Lots of teleosts have pharyngeal teeth that probably do some of the dirty work. But Darren Naish has mentioned some pinocchio/jonah style post ingestion escapes. I can ask Wainwright lab folks if they have ever seen anything like that.
 
Ok, this was the case I was thinking of:


"Taricha granulosa [newt] have also been observed to crawl out of the mouths of T. couchi that were immobilized after ingesting the toxic newt; newts have survived up to 85 min of ingestion by garter snakes
(Brodie and Brodie, 1990)." - From Williams et al. 2003 (http://tinyurl.com/3gkmxn5)
 
We generally imagine that death comes quickly to animals. Unfortunately, we know that often this is not true.
 
On another scale — M. leprae bursts out of the phagosomes of the macrophage that eats it....
 
what +Raymond Dickey said.

i have seen young (~14 weeks post-egg) Opsanus tau - oyster toadfish - cannibalize one another. they will snap at most anything smaller than them, including fellow hatchlings. at least once, a largish toadlet grabbed another's tail, and inched (millimetered?) slowly up the other fish's body, shaking and struggling, gills pumping. three hours later the unfortunate sibling was near-swallowed bodily up to the gill arches, which were still pumping (though much more slowly). after that i wanted to see no more.

and i've seen much the same with garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) and toads, even once where the (smaller) snake got the (relatively larger) toad by the hind feet instead of the head... the whole process took the better part of an hour.

given these are vertebrates, and given a cold-blooded metabolism with low oxygen requirements, deaths in these kinds of cases - which surely happen every day - are surely agonizingly slow, suffocating nightmares for the animal being consumed.
 
Pelicans eat... I think Gannets... where overfishing has depleted food stocks. BBC showed them swallow them whole.... they have pointy beaks. Tummy piercing sharp is what I would have guessed but they seem fine. I assume a dunk in acid in a dark tight space reduces the fight somewhat. Can't imagine it being pleasant for either though.
 
When I worked at a pet store, we refused to sell mealworms to people who wanted them for small frogs, because of the nasty habit mealworms have of lasting long enough to chew their way back out when swallowed alive.
 
I've often heard this about mealworms but never been sure if it was true. Does anyone have documentation that this is more than pet store lore?
 
I suspect that it's a small frog thing, to be honest. Frogs have ridges in their mouths that ought to crunch up most prey. Really, it comes down to mismatched prey sized and animals with powerful jaws to fight back - the same reason you should pre-kill rabbits, rats and mice before you feed them to your snake, lizard, or frog.
 
I just read that some snails can survive being eaten by a bird: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-tiny-snails-survive-birds-digestive.html

Apart from that it's quite the strategy to get eaten, many parasites move to new hosts that way, and plant seeds get distributed and fertilized for their start in life when being pooped out. But those are not prey, true.

By the way: I never ever want to eat an oyster. Which is swallowed alive. I don't want anything to have to fight for its life in my stomach.
 
Also, there is documented evidence of a man called Jonah surviving in the belly of a whale for years. The journal it was in had some other pretty crazy and controversial papers in, but I have been told that it is 100% factual.
 
There’s no way it could be 100% factual without at least some phone hacking going on.
 
Umm its in a really old book. A book that says it is 100% true. I mean... I don't see what else you need to be convinced.

In other news, how has nobody made a swallow joke yet? I thought this was the internet.
 
Ho lee crud! Dude that link .... it has everything I'd want in a story... well except boobs but, and I don't say this often (read: ever) but boobs might wreck it.
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