While the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) looks like it could chew off your finger, this is actually not possible. But what if you put your finger in the trap of the Venus flytrap and left it there for a while, what would happen?
The worst that could happen when you would leave your finger in the trap of a Venus flytrap for a while is a slight irritation of the skin. The plant does not have enough energy and digestive enzymes to digest your finger and the plant would die before it could cause any serious damage.
In this article, I will elaborate on what happens with the trap and your finger when you would leave your finger in the trap.
Holding Your Finger In The Trap
Before anything even could happen to your finger, you must first ensure that your finger remains in the plant’s trap. It is already quite a challenge to hold your finger in the trap for a while because your finger is constantly moving. There are two important questions that need answers:
- How would you hold your fingers still?
- How would you put your finger inside the trap for a longer period of time?
Now, how would you hold your fingers still? Freeze in time? When you can’t hold your finger really still, there is a chance that the digestive cycle of the plant won’t even start, because the trap is disturbed by all the movement.
There are several ways to ensure that your finger remains in the plant’s trap for a longer period of time. For example, you could do it by sitting at a desk with your finger in the trap or you could have the plant strapped to your hand with your finger in the trap. But how are you going to make the trap stay around your finger while you sleep? Rest it beside your pillow?
It’s very unlikely that you “accidentally” left your finger in the trap of the Venus flytrap for a while.
For the sake of the curiosity of knowing what would happen. IF you could figure out a way to hold your finger in the flytrap for a while there are a couple of things that will (not) happen.
Not Enough Digestive Enzymes to Damage The Skin
When the little hairs on the inside of the flytrap are stimulated more than once in 25 seconds, the trap closes. After 15 minutes, the trap seals tightly, allowing the digestion to take place.
Depending on the size and the health of the Venus flytrap, the trap will then secrete a little amount of 8 different digestive enzymes. After which the digestion of the prey will begin, this process takes from five to 12 days.
The secreted digestive enzymes are just enough to digest a little insect.
Since the “prey” is your finger, the digestive enzymes will be secreted…
ON YOUR FINGER!!! HELP!!
Anyway… there is no need for panic because getting these enzymes on your finger will not hurt you, there is actually not enough digestive enzymes to cause any serious damage to the human skin. The worst thing that could happen to your finger is a slight irritation of the skin, the digestive enzymes could turn the skin somewhat red.
Now that you know that there are not enough digestive enzymes in the Venus flytrap to penetrate the human skin, there is actually another reason why the trap can’t hurt you.
The Trap Will turn black and Die
Another problem is that the trap is not fully sealed when trapping your finger because your finger is much bigger than the trap.
In order for the digestive cycle to operate correctly, the trap first has to seal airtight. Because this is not possible, there is a chance that the trap would not start the digestive-cycle or secrete a lot less digestive enzymes than it normally would have.
Also, because the plant is not able to fully close, the plant will most likely be infested with bacteria and start rotting.
Lastly, the plant will have wasted a lot of energy on trying to digest the prey (your finger). The plant will eventually detect this waste of energy and push off the trap, after which there will grow a new trap.
Venus Flytrap Experiment
In the funny and experimental video below, a YouTuber has taped a venus flytrap to his hand and put his finger in the trap to see what would happen.
We can learn a couple of things from this video:
- It’s not easy to hold your fingers still in the snap trap of the Venus flytrap
- The movement of the finger can disturb the digestive cycle of the trap
- The digestive enzymes can slightly irritate the skin and make it red
- It’s possible to go to the toilet with a Venus flytrap strapped to your hand
Source 1: https://www.livescience.com/58021-venus-flytrap-facts.html
Source 2: http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq2180.html
Source 3: Book: plant electrophysiology: signaling and responses by Alexander G. Volkov
Source 4: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5993016/#table-2fn1