You have two pets, a large snake (a python) and\ a tat. Although both are carnivores, you notice a large difference in their feeding hObits. You feed the snake a live mouse once every two Weeks, which it swallows whole; this morsel satisfies it completely until the next time (two weeks later) you drop another mouse into its terrarium. In contrast, the cat eats dry food at least three times a day, and demands (rather insistently) to have wet food in both the morning and early evening. Much to your horror, he also tries to kill small birds that alight in your backyard to eat seed from a bird feeder. Compounding this problem, other birds are constantly on the bird feeder, knocking loose seeds that attract the ground-grazing birds. Squirrels also constitute a nuisance with their once-daily raiding of the bird feeder; their ingenuity in circumventing your barriers to the feeder is both admirable and frustrating, and provokes wonder about how much energy they spend on working out ways to get the food.

Why are there such differences in feeding habits in these animals? Why does the python, the largest of the animals, require so little food to sustain itself? How is it that the birds, which are the smallest, are feeding over the course of an entire day? What prompts the squirrels to come by only once (sometimes twice) a day, investing so much effort in working out how to get the food? Why does your cat require so much protein every day?

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