Snakes are carnivorous, can be found all around the world, have a forked tongue that is used to catch prey, slither through their habitats, and have an extensible jaw that can stretch up to three times its normal length. They’re also among the most poisonous animals on earth. Did you know all of this?
Yes? Great! Now you are prepared to learn more about some interesting facts about snakes.
- Snakes eat a lot of other snakes – and other things – including lizards, birds, rodents, and even smaller snakes. They will sometimes strip a carcass clean, and will also defend their kill (by biting and constricting) against other predators.
- Most snakes can be divided into two groups: true (living) snakes and colubrids. In the past, some people thought that true snakes were more dangerous than the colubrids, but today this is no longer the case.
- There are more species of snakes living in North America than any other continent.
- Many kinds of snakes have a striking resemblance to other kinds of snakes. For example, the venomous coral snake is frequently confused with the non-venomous scarlet kingsnake, and sometimes even with the non-venomous milk snake.
- Snakes are ovoviviparous (babies are born alive, then hatch from eggs within the mother’s body). This means that the baby snakes of most species need to be nourished by their parents for up to 9 months of their lives.
- Snakes shed their skins (i.e., molt) about twice a year, and don’t usually do it in winter. The snake will get right underneath its old skin, where it will get ready for its next molt.
- The majority of snakes are in the order Squamata. If you’re in a rough neighborhood, it can be wise to leave your hoodie in the car to avoid being bitten by a snake.
- Snakes are very common in the New World, with over 16 different species living in North America alone.
- Snakes have an exceptionally wide diet, taking down everything from termites to birds, rats to lizards, rodents to other snakes. The range of prey that they will eat is mainly determined by their size and general health. They do not have teeth or jaws that are suited for prey much larger than themselves.
- Many snakes have special sensory organs on their heads that allow them to sense heat, movement, and vibrations. These are part of the Jacobson’s organ that snakes possess, named after Ebenezer Jacobson who discovered it in 1810.
- The most widely studied part of a snake’s body is its head, since studying other parts can be dangerous or even fatal for the snake.
- “Ophiodon elongatum” is the only snake with an elongated skull (which is something like an anteater) which can make it very difficult to swallow prey larger than itself. Its diet consists mostly of insects but also includes skinks, lizards, small mammals, fish and frogs.
- The world’s longest snake is the reticulated python, which has been measured to be over 27 feet long.
- The longest venomous snake is the black mamba, which can grow up to 18 feet long.
- Snakes are able to blink both their eyes and their tongues, which they do independently of one another to help them survive in different conditions. They can use their tongues to taste smells in the air, and they will generally use blinking as a form of communication with other snakes (though researchers are still unclear about how this works).