There are about 2400 modern species of snakes. About 500 species are very poisonous. Moreover, more than half of them possess serious dangers to humans. Their poisonous venoms are used primarily for hunting rather than for self-defence. The largest form of snake on earth is the python, and water boa.
Table of Contents
Legs: No legs
Bites: bites of some species of deadly
Nutrition: reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians and fish
Movement: Do not Fly
Life span:1-20 years
Region: Found throughout U.S. and other countries
Snakes are limbless animals with thin strong elongated bodies. They are descendant from lizards about 135 million of years ago and are among the last group of reptiles on earth.
They are vertebrates. The smallest snake has a length of just 12.5 to 15cm. However, giant snakes exceed 9m in length and weighs hundreds of ponds. Snakes are cold-blooded animals. This means that unlike other mammals and birds, they do not generate plenty heat to maintain constant body temperature.
Due to this fact, they love to relax under the sun. They are poorly protected against overheating that kills them quickly.
Body structure of a snake
Snakes have narrowly elongated bodies that are covered heavily with strong flaps and scales. Their tongues are long forked and are interconnected by elastic ligaments that make it possible for their mouth to be strong and stretch well when they are swallowing a large prey.
They have sharp slender teeth that are curved inwards and for non-poisonous snakes, serve to capture and hold prey. As for poisonous snakes, their teeth are bent upwards in their jaws and have a path or channel leading to the poison.
Their hearts is located in the area of the trachea and are bifurcated in nature and enclosed in a sac known as the
Skeleton. A serpent’s backbone consists of hundreds of vertebrae. This makes it possible for snakes to have a great flexible body. The bones of snakes are very difficult to classify and are tightly connected. Because they don’t have limbs, they can move freely and they have special movement skills.
Their lack of leg is complemented by their special method of ingesting food.
Skin. The thickening outer layer of their skin is covered with scales. Underneath their scales are fine elastic skint that allows the snake to stretch its body and swallow objects, even things that are larger than themselves. Snakes vary greatly in terms of colour. Those found in temperate regions are largely grey, black and brown in colour; those found in the tropics on the contrary are highly bright in colour. You can come across snakes of different colours, from green, red and yellow colours.
They may come in a single colour or have a specific pattern of colours. Their colours can serve as camouflage or other defensive roles.
Moulting. As snakes grow, they shed their skins. To remove the old outer layer of the skin, they first of all tear it around their mouth by rubbing their head on the floor or on other solid surfaces such as a rock. The snake removes its old skin from its body and most times the old skin comes off as a whole. Moulting of skin occurs frequently more than once a year; however, the environment determines the frequency of shredding.Their shredded skin becomes colourless, and the pigments that determine the colour of snakes lie deeply within their tissue. It is very difficult to identify which sex a snake is based on its colour alone and other external factors. Even snake specialist find it difficult to classify them based on colour alone. In general, most female snakes are larger than the males but they have shorter tails.
Thermal sensitivity. Even though snakes lack the ability to hear, they have two special membranes located in front and just below the eye.
These membranes are very sensitive to infrared radiations. These membranes are covered with special nerves that allow them to feel the temperature of objects only a few degree away from them.
What do snakes eats? Medium and large size snakes feed mostly on other reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians and fish. Most smaller species feeds on insects and other invertebrates. If the animals are harmless, snakes capture them alive and swallow. If the animals are large or fast, snakes immobilize them by poisoning them or just suffocate them by squeezing it with its body. When a snake gets hold of a larger prey, it closes its mouth tight with the aid of its sharp curved teeth. Snakes don’t grind or chew foods, rather, they simply swallow their prey whole.
Snakes consume three or four heavy meals yearly, most especially in the case of prolonged hibernation and this food is enough to help the snake maintain good form. There are also many instances where snakes do without food for a year or longer.
How do snakes move? Snakes are widely believed to crawl very fast, but close observation suggest that this believe is false. They are believed to move at an average of 10km/h. they mostly creep and form an ‘S’ curve in a horizontal plane.
Snakes are very good swimmers and the transparent film on their eyes is important because it protects their eyes when swimming. They have ability to hold breath for a long time while under water, and this greatly support their movement while under water, making them move very fast.
How do snakes breed? When the breeding season comes, snakes start searching for sex partner. The males use their senses to locate females.
During grooming, they locate partners easily. Each specie makes use of its own unique pattern of movements. Some species movement are so complicated that they look like dance, although in most cases male rub their chin on the back. In the long run, the partners intertwine their tails and the male inserts his hemipenis into the Cloaca of the females. The females are created with the ability to store live sperm, so just after a single mating, they can reproduce many offspring.
Snakes nest. Snakes offspring are born in various ways. They are usually hatched from eggs. However, there are some species that are viviparous. If the period of incubation is very short, delay in laying the eggs can cause the offspring to hatch while still within the body of the mother. There are some species however that have formed simple placenta through which the mothers transfers oxygen, nutrients and water to the embryos.
Most snakes nest are simply arranged, but you might not see any egg in it. Females are busy looking for suitable place such as heap of rotten organic materials to protect the eggs from harsh temperature changes, predators, flooding and drying out. When female snakes protect their eggs, they don’t just scare off predators but also keep their body warm by staying in the sun.
The females lay from 5 to 100 eggs at once. Large python are very fertile and lay up to 100 eggs at times.
Types of snakes
There are about 2,400 species of snakes in the world, out of which 7 species can be traced as the most dangerous to humans.
This specie is spread all over Eurasia, from Britain to Vietnam. They love to stay under the sun in dry places. Their sting is quite painful, but hardly causes death. The adults grow from 60 to 80 cm. and they aren’t aggressive in nature.
These snakes inhibits grasslands, savannahs and rocky places in Uganda, Zambia, Angola, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Namibia and Mozambique and is known as the longest venomous snake in Africa and the second largest in size of deadly snakes around the world. The adults mostly grow to a length of 2.5 m, although there are some that grow up to 4 meters in length. These snakes move at a speed of 20 km/h. they are deadly and wound sting continuously after the first sting. They are mostly seen in African villages.
These snakes live in small stagnant ponds, lakes and streams and can be found mostly in the United States. Their bite is very deadly. These snakes prey on fish and frogs, other snakes and small aquatic animals and they mostly ambush their victims. They are mostly 180 cm in length and are a rare species.
These species are known for their triangular shaped head. They are deadly and often bite, mostly more than once. Their venom is powerful and death might even occur from their bite. Even a little attack by these snakes on humans is deadly. These species are typically found in Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil and Trinidad. This snake is beautiful yet dangerous and reaches a length of 4m.
These snakes are simply called “black snake” in Australia. Their bite is poisonous and potentially harmful to humans. They are the largest venomous snakes in the world and they reach a length of 3 meters. They feed mostly on frogs.
These reptiles are native of the northern pacific coast of America. However, they are occasionally found in British Columbia (Canada) and northwest Mexico. It is highly believed by Americans that these snakes are the most aggressive and poisonous snakes in the United States and is dreadful. They are excellent in climbing trees. They reach up to a meter in length. These snakes are very fatal to humans but they are not dangerous to skunks.
These are the most extreme venomous snakes on earth. They are native of the tropical regions of northern and North Western Australia. It is believed that a single bite from this snake is capable of killing 12,000 guinea pigs. Their orange eyes and brownish shaded bodies easily identify these snakes. The poison from their bite leads to vomiting, sharp pains in the abdomen, anxiety and severe headache. These is followed by obscured vision, convulsion and if a person doesn’t receive help on time they might fall into a coma, convulsion and probably death. Before the invention of antidote form taipan’s bite, 90% of the victims were reported to die from its bite. This snake reaches a length of 3.5m.
Where do snakes live?
Most snakes grow up to their sexual maturity when they reach their second, third or fourth year of life. Their rate of growth gets to its peak when they reach puberty and it slows down notably, even though snakes continue growing throughout their lifetime. Most snakes live up to a maximum of 20 years. Snakes can practically be seen in all living corners of the earth except for Antarctica. The spread from the artic circles in the north to the southernmost region of the American continent. Their population are many in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, South America and Australia. They prefer living in hot climate areas. They can be seen in different environments, be it forest, steppes, deserts, mountains and foothills.
Snakes lives lifestyle of crawling on the ground, but some species lives underground, in trees and in water. When winter comes, snakes hibernate.