The Daily Mail, Britain’s foremost alarmist tabloid, posted a story to its website today under the headline “Heads or tails? Watch the extraordinary moment a snake eats its OWN TAIL after mistaking it for a rival predator.”
A clickworthy headline to be sure, promising a few minutes of wonder and distraction from your day at the office as you watch the IRL Ouroboros in action. The Telegraph picked up the story too. Only problem? The video, posted August 2012, is over a year old.
The Mail fleshed out its story with a few quotes from the experts: YouTube commenters.
One user who watched the video wrote: ‘Why didn’t anyone stop it? Poor snake.’
Another user wrote: ‘Why didn’t you get someone at the pet shop to help the snake instead of standing there like a cruel idiot recording an animal hurting himself?’
Another user wrote: ‘One reason snakes do this is because they are agitated from getting too hot. Judging by the fact the snake is in the water bowl I would suspect this is the reason.
Snakes are cold blooded so their metabolic rate is controlled by how they regulate their body temperature, a hot snake has an increased metabolism and would likely feel hungry if it hasn’t eaten recently, which could drive this behavior.
The internet will eat itself. I’m sure there’s a good metaphor in that video somewhere.