Snakes are elongated, limbless, egg-laying reptiles belonging to the Serpentes suborder.
What do snakes look like?
All snakes have cylindrical bodies covered in scales, while their size and coloration varies greatly from one species to another. They can be black, brown, dark blue and blackish green to vibrant shades of red, yellow, orange and green. Located at the front of the head are two small eyes with round or slit pupils, a pair of nostrils and heat sensors (poisonous species) while they also have a forked tongue to ‘smell’ their surroundings. Distinctive physical characteristics common to all species include the absence of eyelids and external ears.
Where do snakes live?
Found in countries throughout the world, their habitat range includes grasslands, savannas, meadows, mountains, desserts, urban areas, wetlands, ponds, rivers and even the oceans. They usually live in caves and ground burrows but can also dwell in gardens, backyards and attics.
What do snakes eat?
All snakes are carnivorous as they primarily feed on insects, small mammals (rats, moles), birds (ducks), amphibians (frogs, salamanders), reptiles (lizards, smaller snakes) and their eggs. The diet of the aquatic species mainly consists of fishes and other water animals.
How many types of snakes are there in the world?
There are around 3,000 different snake species in the world, but only 375 out of these are poisonous. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 200 of all venomous species are deadly enough to kill humans and large animals.
What eats snakes?
Various birds of prey such as eagles and hawks as well as many mammals including raccoons, coyotes, mongoose and foxes prey on snakes.
What is the deadliest and most venomous snake in the world?
|World’s largest snake||An extinct species named Titanoboa (Titanoboa cerrejonensis, lived over sixty million years ago) measuring around 15 m (50 feet) in length|
|Longest snake in the world||The reticulated python (Python reticulatus) growing up to 9 m (30 feet)) long|
|Heaviest snake||The green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) weighing 150 kgs (330 pounds) in average|
|Smallest snake||Barbados threadsnake (Leptotyphlops carlae) being about 10 cm (4 inches) long|
- Venomous snakes have a pair of fangs used for hunting and self-defence while non-venomous ones have smaller teeth for gripping their prey.
- Being cold blooded (ectotherms), their body temperature is regulated externally by basking in sunlight and withdrawing to shaded areas
- They hibernate throughout the winter months
- All snakes molt or shed their skin around 3 to 6 times a year
- They often have more skull joints compared to their lizard ancestors so they can swallow prey larger than their heads, using their highly flexible jaws
- Species belonging to the Rhabdophis genus are considered true poisonous snakes, meaning their toxins can be harmful even when touched with bare skin (venomous snakes are not harmful unless their venom passes through the skin)
- Snakes in the Chrysopelea genus are commonly referred to as flying snakes as they can glide from one tree branch to another, using the ridge scales located along their belly
- Some species have a pelvic girdle along with two rudimentary claws near the tail.
- Baby snakes are called snakelets (newly born) or hatchlings (newly hatched from egg)
- A 2008 study published in PLoS Medicine shows around 20,000 human deaths occur due to snakebite every year, with most cases recorded in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
- A few constrictors, like the boa and some python species, are large enough to swallow an adult human being; however, no such case has been recorded
- Snakes or serpents often appear in ancient mythological symbolism, representing transformation, rebirth and renewal of life