Snake Facts

There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world and there is at least one type of snake on every continent except Antarctica. While the snake has a bad rap as a pest, snakes can often be quite helpful and even a fun pet.

With so many different species, there are snakes of many different sizes. The world's smallest snake, according to National Geographic, is the thread snake, which grows to only about 3.9 inches long. It looks much like an earthworm. The largest snake, the reticulated python, can grow to a whopping 30 feet long. The largest snake fossil ever discovered is called the Titanoboa. This creature lived 60 million years ago and would have been 50 feet long.

Pest Tips

It is a common misconception that snakes build nests for their eggs. Only one species of snake, the king cobra, will build a nest for its young. Not all snakes lay eggs, either. About 70 percent of snakes lay eggs. These types of snakes are called oviparous. The other 30 percent give birth to live young, much like mammals. This is because some climates are too cold for eggs to develop and hatch, so snakes living in colder climates do not lay eggs.

Snakes live in almost every corner of the world. They are found in forests, deserts, swamps and grasslands. Many call underground burrows or the spaces under rocks home. Some snakes, like the cottonmouth water moccasin of North America live in water part of the time.

Though they are found all over the world, snakes do not, however, like the cold. This is because they are cold blooded, or ectothermic. This means that they don't have the means to regulate their body temperature as warm blooded creatures do. If it is cold outside, then the snake will be cold, too, since their bodies do not use energy to create heat for warmth. When it is cold, many snakes hibernate in tunnels underground. Others seek warmer areas, such as inside humans' homes.

Trivia

Snakes don't smell with their noses like humans. They have a forked or split tongue that they use to smell and taste chemical compositions in the air. Snakes don't have eyelids or ears, either, and their eyes don't move. To hear, they feel vibrations through the ground.

Human skin flakes off a little at a time, but snakes shed their entire skin nearly three times a year, which is called molting.

Snakes aren't slimy. Their scales are smooth and dry. Corn snakes use their scales as climbing equipment. They can angle the scales so that it digs into bark, allowing them to climb trees.

The paradise tree snake of Southeast Asia can fly. It swings its body through the air and then flattens into a C-shape to catch the airflow. If it flips its body back and forth it can change directions as it falls.

There are several ways to tell if a snake is poisonous. For example, if its pupil is shaped like a diamond, then the snake is poisonous. Snakes that are non-poisonous have round pupils. Color is another good clue. This rhyme will help you remember the difference between a coral snake, which is poisonous, and a scarlet king snake, which is not poisonous:

  • If red touches yellow, it will kill a fellow.
  • If red touches black, it's a friend of Jack.

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