There is a video from the Dagestan region in Russia circulating around the internet that shows a woman spewing out a 4 feet (120 cm) snake from a place where it shouldn't have wandered into.
While the story is not yet confirmed, it goes like this: A woman began feeling nauseous and paid a visit to the good old trusty doctors. After some imaging, the doctors judged that there's an unidentified body in her stomach, so the medical staff was tasked to anesthetize and intubate the patient and remove the "thing".
Numerous news outlets reported that the snake waltzed in the lady's throat while she was sleeping. But how much truth does this claim carry?
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You see, there are major questions to be answered here. The most important one being whether it is possible at all that a snake can slither in a person's mouth, travel down the throat, passing through the larynx, going down the esophagus, and finally cozily settle in the stomach (mind you, it's a very unwelcoming place with all the digestive acid floating around).
News outlet Inverse reached out to herpetologists (the subdiscipline of zoology relating to the study of amphibians and reptilians) to figure out what's going on.
We should advise once more that the content is pretty graphic, even the medical professional taking out the jumps back in disgust and abhorrence, so beware of what you're about to watch.
The first theory comes from Toby Hibbitts, a research scientist at Texas A&M University. He thinks it's not a snake at all. Probably a worm, he says.
Judged by its size, it is probably a member of the Ascaris genus. According to data from the World Health Organization, it's the most common type of gastrointestinal parasite found in humans. Different sources estimate that about 1 billion people on Earth are infected with Ascariasis.
California Polytechnic State University assistant professor Emily Taylor has the same impression as well. So probably not a snake.
It's not possible to come up with a surefire diagnosis of what's going on though, the video resolution is too low to see details of the loathsome creature clearly. Although, we should still note that the Dagestan region is known for its rich snake diversity.
Luke Linhoff, a conservation biologist at Florida International University notes that "The area between the Caspian and Black Seas has a huge variety of habitats ranging from high mountains to arid steppe, with many amazing and threatened species. With a good picture or high-quality video, it would be easy to identify the species."
Can a snake slither in your stomach just like that though?
The answer to this question is most likely a big no. You'd probably have a horrible gag reflex against such a foreign body of this diameter and length. Well, folks, the good news is that all the herpetologists agreed that a snake crawling in your stomach is a highly unlikely scenario. Taylor noted that "The esophagus is collapsed so it's not as though it's merely a tunnel, and people must actually swallow to move items from the mouth to the stomach."
But before that, researchers also had the same idea that a snake would not try such a thing in the first place. Linhoff says "Snakes generally avoid people at all costs. They see you as a large predator or threat and do their best to be elusive," and adds "If they were interested in heat, they would more likely crawl into your clothes." Yikes, not an ideal scenario either.
Taylor remarks that even if that thing is a snake, it should have been deliberately swallowed, but that's also unlikely given the length of the creature. Plus, as we've said before, the stomach is a highly welcoming place with high acid content and no oxygen.
So that wraps it up. Very very unlikely that what we saw in this video is a snake.