break down their digestive tracts between <feedings>

NewAmerica

Senior Member
Mandarin
Does "feeding" here mean "feeding their babies"? If so, why in plural form? Why not simply use "feeding" rather than "feedings"?

Thanks in advance

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“In addition to fat, some animals will lose organ mass when food is scarce.” He points to the fact some snakes break down their digestive tracts between feedings and build them back up after nabbing prey. But, like the authors of the new research, he was surprised by the degree of shrews’ shrinking bones and brains.
-Scientific American

Source
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Between always refers to at least two things, hence the plural form of feeding. In that extract, "between feedings" means the time from one feeding to the next.
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you.

    What does "feeding" exactly mean here? Because snakes don't feed their young at all:

    How do parent snakes feed baby snakes?

    Just as in crocodiles, turtles, and lizards, they don’t feed their offspring at all. Some snakes guard their eggs until they hatch - some snakes guard their newborn offspring until the babies shed their ‘egg skin’ and disperse, but none feed their offspring.

    Source
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I think it refers to their feeding themselves — when any food is available, that is.
    If so, "after nabbing prey" is a part of the feeding. Yet, according to the author, "some snakes break down their digestive tracts between feedings and build them back up after nabbing prey."

    Now we got both breaking down and building back up the digestive tracts of the snakes during feedings. That is confusing.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Their digestive tracts only build up again after they've caught something to eat, having broken down during the long period since they last ate.
     
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