- There are about 3,000 different kinds of snakes. Of these, about 375 are venomous. There are 126 different kinds of snakes in the United States. Only 19 are harmful to people. The venom of the king cobra, the world’s largest venomous snake, is strong enough to kill an elephant.
- Snakes are reptiles that have long, flexible bodies. They have no arms or legs. Snakes come in a variety of shapes. Snakes that live in the water tend to be long and flat, while those that live in trees are long and thin with a tail they can use to clasp onto a branch. Snakes that burrow in the ground tend to be shorter and more compact. Snakes also have unblinking, lidless eyes. They have a transparent scale that protects their eyes. Snakes are deaf to airborne sounds, and they ‘hear’ by picking up vibrations through their jawbones.
- Snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns. Poisonous snakes tend to be brightly colored. The bright colors act as a warning to predators that they should stay away.
- There are some non-poisonous snakes that are also brightly colored. This occurs so that predators will be fooled and leave them alone. Some snakes are colored the same as their surroundings in hopes of being hidden from their prey and their predators.
- Snakes that live in captivity can live very long lives. There is a boa constrictor that is 27 years old and a South American anaconda that is 28 years old. Both of these snakes live in zoos.
- Snakes can be different sizes depending on the type of snake. The ground snake is about 5 inches long while a python can grow to be 30 feet in length and weigh 200 pounds. The anaconda can grow up to 38 feet in length, the brahminy blind snake is just 2 inches long, making it the smallest snake in the world.
- Snakes eat only when they are hungry. That may mean that the snake will eat every 3 or 4 days, once a week or once a month. If a snake doesn’t move very much, such as some that are kept in zoos, they may only eat a couple of times a year. One species of fer-de-lance, a deadly viper, has been recorded swallowing prey that was 1.6 times its own body weight.
- Snakes have more than 200 teeth, which they do not use to chew, since they point backwards, but bite and grip their prey securely. Snakes have the unique ability of swallowing prey three times larger than their mouth. They can
do this because the special tendons located in their mouth are highly stretchable and because the two halves of their jaws are not attached to each other rigidly.
- Some snakes give birth to tiny living snakes that crawl off and take care of themselves right from the start, but most snakes lay eggs.
- A snake’s scales are very smooth and fit together so there is no place for dirt to catch on a snakeskin. Snakes get brand-new skins every once in a while so they are usually very, very clean. Another interesting fact about snakes is that they need to shed their skin regularly while they grow, a process known as molting.
- Snakes shed their skin by rubbing their head against something rough and hard, like a piece of wood or a rock. This causes the skin, which is already stretched, to split open. The snake keeps on rubbing its skin on various rough objects, resulting in the skin peeling off from its head, enabling it to crawl out, turning the skin inside out.
- Snakes are very helpful. The small ones eat harmful bugs and insects. The big ones eat rats, mice, gophers, and animals that destroy crops. Many kinds of snakes are disappearing completely for various reasons like being killed due to fear or for their skins, while their habitats are being continuously eroded and destroyed by people.
Snakes are reptiles which are mostly found in tropical regions of the world. The only places that have no snakes are Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica. They are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on the heat from their surroundings and the sun to control the temperature of their bodies. For more information on snakes, see the list below.