Interesting Facts about Snakes

Snakes have been feared by humans since the beginning of time. The fear had led humans to kill them like pests, treat them as pets, and more. Let’s look at some interesting facts about snakes that will give you a perspective of them differently.

1. There Are About 3,000 Species of Snakes in the World There Are About 3,000 Species of Snakes in the World

Our planet earth is host to about 3,000 species of snakes. These snakes are found in every country except Antarctica, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and New Zealand. Out of the 3,000 discovered species of these limbless carnivorous reptiles, about 600 are venomous. 

2. Venomous Snakes Are Dangerous But So Are Non-Venomous Snakes

Venomous Snakes Are the Not Dangerous

About seven percent of the venomous species of snakes can significantly wound or kill a human being. However, the non-venomous ones include harmless small snakes to the great deadly python. The astonishing fact is that even if non-venomous snakes do not contain poison, they are equally dangerous. 

These giant non-venomous snakes can swallow their prey – humans or animals – alive or constrict their prey to death by wrapping their slithering bodies tightly around the prey. [1]

3. Snakes are Ectotherm Reptiles Snakes are Ectotherm Reptiles

Snakes are reptiles and ectotherms – implying that they cannot produce body heat from the inside. Ecto means outside, and therm means heat. Thus, snakes rely on the outside environment to regulate their body temperature. 

Hot weather outside warms up these cold-blooded reptiles’ bodies and provides the energy to go about their lives. It is a primary reason snakes cannot survive in regions with harsh winters. [2]

4. Snakes are Different than Other Reptiles Snakes are Different than Other Reptiles

Snakes are carnivorous; thus, they only eat meat or animal eggs.

5. Snakes Have Scales to Slither Fast

Snakes Have Scales to Slither Fast

Snakes can slither or slide up to 12.5 miles per hour. It has always been an interesting topic for scientists to analyze how snakes move quickly without limbs. After numerous theories and experimentation, scientists concluded that the tiny scales on the snakes’ bodies help provide friction to snakes’ slithering bodies and push them forward. 

Snakes can move fast across various surfaces due to these scales and their frictional ability. [3]

6. People also Keep Snakes as Pets People also Keep Snakes as Pets

A public survey in 2012 in the USA revealed that more than 1,150,000 people in the country have snakes as pets. These reptiles are increasingly becoming more popular as pets with the millennials. The most popular pet snake, according to the survey, is the ball python snake. [4]

7. Snakes Brumate during Cold Weather Snakes Brumate during Cold Weather

We have all heard about animals hibernating during winter, wherein they sleep for long hours in safe places. Snakes are cold-blooded animals, and their bodies become less active during winter. Their metabolism also slows down to a bare minimum during low temperatures. It is when snakes hide in safe places such as old animal burrows, big fallen logs, or other manmade vacant buildings. 

This state of inactivity of snakes during winter is called brumation, and it is different from hibernation as snakes do not sleep for long hours. They hunt and eat their prey when needed or when the temperature becomes slightly warmer. [5]  

8. Snakes Do Not Have Lips Snakes Do Not Have Lips

Snakes do not have lips. However, their water intake is through their mouth by sucking the water all in. 

9. Snakes Can Go Without Food for Several Months 

Snakes Can Go Without Food for Several Months

Even if snakes do not eat anything, they can survive for months. As they are cold-blooded reptiles, they can limit their energy consumption when in the resting phase. Thus, their core protein storage in their bodies remains intact while providing energy, even when they have not eaten in a long time. 

10. Snakes Do Have Teeth

Snakes Do Have Teeth

Snakes do have teeth. Their teeth are curved and small, allowing them to have a good grip on their prey. Depending on the various species of snakes, some might have sharper or longer teeth. 

11. A Snake’s Hiss is a Warning Sign

A Snake’s Hiss is a Warning Sign

Snakes hiss as a defense mechanism when they are disturbed. Their first instinct in the face of any challenge or danger is to slide away and find cover. However, failing to do so results in boiling their anger, and they might hiss to warn the disturber that they are ready to strike. 

12. The Biggest Snakes Can Even Eat Bears, Deer, and Wild Hogs The Biggest Snakes Can Even Eat Bears, Deer, and Wild Hogs

Reticulated pythons are one of the largest discovered species of snakes. They can grow up to 33 feet in length, and with this kind of length, they can easily hunt and prey on big animals, including bears, deer, and wild hogs. 

13. The World’s Smallest Snake is Called the Barbados Threadsnake The World’s Smallest Snake is Called the Barbados Threadsnake

Scientifically known as Leptotyphlops carlae, the Barbados threadsnake is the tiniest snake in the world. It only reaches about 10.4 cm in length in adulthood and weighs about 0.02 ounces (0.6 kg). [6]

14. Venomous is the Term that Suites Snakes Better instead of Poisonous Venomous is the Term that Suites Snakes Better instead of Poisonous

Biologists have explained that snakes are venomous as this term applies to the organisms that have to bite to inject their toxins into other bodies. On the other hand, poisonous is the term for organisms that transfer their toxins when someone consumes them. [7]

15. Inland Taipan is the Most Venomous Snake Worldwide Inland Taipan is the Most Venomous Snake Worldwide

The Inland Taipan, scientifically known as Oxyuranus microlepidotus, is the most venomous snake in the world. It can yield about 44 mg of venom on average. However, it is often compared to the African Black Mamba, which is less venomous than the Inland Taipan but way bigger. 

Considering the size, the African Black Mamba is huge (about seven ft. long). Even though the black mamba is less venomous than the Inland Taipan, the frightening size makes it more dangerous than the former. [8]

16. Snakes Do Not Have Eyelids Snakes Do Not Have Eyelids

Snakes have modified scales on their eyes instead of eyelids. These scales, also called eye caps, protect their eyes from dust while maintaining moisture in the eyes and keeping the cornea functional. 

17. Snakes are Nocturnal, Diurnal, or Crepuscular Snakes are Nocturnal, Diurnal, or Crepuscular

You can find snakes active any time of the day. Depending on the climate, lunar illumination, time of the year, the possibility of nighttime predators, or abundance of prey, snakes can hunt at any time of the day and rest when needed. Hence why they are called nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular. [9]

18. Different Species of Snakes Prey on Different Living Beings

Different Species of Snakes Prey on Different Living Beings

Snakes differ in what they consume, depending on their species. Rat snakes, for instance, consume any organism they can prey on and swallow. Tentacled snakes live underwater and pose as sea branches to catch and eat fish.

19. Snakes Detect Movements around Them through Sound Vibration

Snakes Detect Movements around Them through Sound Vibration

Snakes lack external ears. In other animal species similar to snakes, such as lizards, an ear bone helps them hear things. However, snakes do not hear things like other animals. However, they can detect sound vibrations through the ground using the internal ear bones to know about any movement near them. 

20. Snakes Have a Great Sense of Smell

Snakes Have a Great Sense of Smell

Snakes smell the air when they are on a hunt by flicking their tongues out. Jacobson’s organ is present on the roof of their mouth which is used to detect scent molecules.

Some snakes, including pythons, boas, or vipers, also have pit organs in their mouths that tell them about heat emitted from an animal source or other surface. 

21. Snakes Have a Small Tail Snakes Have a Small Tail

Snake skeletons are unique. Most of the lengths of their bodies comprise torsos that have ribs and an extremely flexible spine. The whole body of a snake might look like its tail, but only a tiny part of the body is the tail.

22. Snakes Shed Twice or Thrice Every Year

Snakes Shed Twice or Thrice Every Year

Snakes shed their skin naturally every year. This shedding is mostly 2 or 3 times annually. In this process, the scales on their bodies first appear dull, and their eyes become opaque. It happens when the top layer of their skin separates from the layers underneath.

When the skin is separated and ready to shed, snakes rub themselves on rough surfaces or objects to get rid of the unwanted skin.

23. Snakes Lay Eggs and Give Birth Snakes Lay Eggs and Give Birth

Snakes primarily reproduce by laying eggs. However, sea snakes living underwater give birth to their babies.

24. Sea Snakes Breathe Through Their Skin Sea Snakes Breathe Through Their Skin

Sea snakes can also breathe through their skin. They have a complicated network of blood vessels on their skin which contain lower oxygen concentrations than the seawater. Thus, diffusion of the seawater into the blood vessels occurs, which results in an increase in the oxygen concentration in their bodies. [10]

25. You Can Fool a Snake by Standing Still in Front of Them You Can Fool a Snake by Standing Still in Front of Them

Snakes do not have highly developed eyesight. They can easily mistake you for a rock or a tree when you stand still in front of them. 

Conclusion

Snakes are ancient creatures, evolving way back during the cretaceous period. Most species of snakes are non-venomous, with a venomous species being in the minority. Snakes are generally thought to be pretty mild and docile creatures, though the few that can be considered truly dangerous at least have a reason for their aggression: their lives depend on it.

References

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/facts/snakes-1 
  2. https://www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/rattlesnake_cur/unit1.pdf 
  3. https://www.livescience.com/3639-study-shows-snakes-slither.html 
  4. https://www.everythingreptiles.com/21-snake-facts
  5. https://www.callnorthwest.com/2019/10/where-do-snakes-go-in-cold-weather/ 
  6. https://www.britannica.com/animal/Barbados-threadsnake 
  7. https://www.britannica.com/story/whats-the-difference-between-venomous-and-poisonous
  8. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/inland-taipan-vs-black-mamba-who-is-more-deadly.html 
  9. https://faunafacts.com/snakes/nocturnal-diurnal-crepuscular
  10. https://sciences.adelaide.edu.au/news/list/2019/09/05/sea-snake-gathers-oxygen-through-its-forehead