If you thought chopping off the head of a venomous snake is a good way to ensure you won’t get bitten, you would be mistaken.
As a viral video is showing, a copperhead snake that had been decapitated actually bit itself. Its head was completely separated when it sunk its fangs into the part of its body to which it used to be connected.
The video starts off with the snake already headless, its body still writhing around a bit.
The head lies still until it appears to have had enough of the tail’s taunting.
“Oh it just bit itself. Wow,” the man filming the footage says. “The snake’s head just bit its body. That is crazy.”
The tail end of the snake at this point begins writhing even more dramatically, sensing the bite. The head hangs on tight.
Eventually, the body slows and the animal appears to have officially met its end.
Watch the video (Content warning: some might consider this footage disturbing):
If you’re wondering exactly how this is possible, Cracked explained last year in a profile about animals that “keep going after they’re dead” that the heat-sensitive pits, located on the snake’s head, don’t lose function immediately upon death. These pits allow the snake to sense prey and strike.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website confirmed that “involuntary nerve activity” of a dead snake could continue for hours.
Still don’t believe it? There are a slew of other YouTube videos showing decapitated snakes still moving. Here’s one:
Although copperheads are venomous, their bites are rarely fatal to humans.