In some cultures the snake is a sign of fertility and life, whilst in others it's taken to signify evil. What ever your personal opinion about snakes, it's fair to say that in the last 170 million years they sure have divided the critics. Let's slither into the cold, scaly, hard facts!
Snakes are thought to have evolved from lizards about 170 million years ago!
Venom is a toxic poison produced by an animal. Snakes quirt venom through their fangs which can be used either in self defence or to hunt prey. There are two types of snakes:
Most snakes are nonvenomous. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by squeezing.
Venomous snakes mainly use it to kill prey rather than for self-defense. Some snakes' venom is toxic enough to cause painful injury or death to humans.
What do snakes eat?
The shedding of a snake's skin is called moulting. They need to shed their skin regularly as they grow. They do this by rubbing their head against a piece of wood or a rock. This causes the stretched skin to split open. Eventually the skin peels off from its head and it crawls out, turning the skin inside out.
All snakes eat other animals. As they cannot chew, they swallow their food whole. Snakes are cold-blooded and do not have to eat as regularly as mammals. Some snakes can go as long as six months without a good meal.
How many different kinds of snakes are there?
How many venomous snakes are there?
Snakes don't blink. Their eyes are lidless and protected by a transparent scale.
Snakes can't hear. They are deaf and 'hear' by sensing vibrations through their jaw bone
Snakes sniff with their tongue. They have a pair of organs on the roof of their mouths called the vomeronasal organ. To smell through their mouths, snakes flick out their tongue and 'sniff' the air.
Snakes come in lots of different colours and patterns. Venomous snakes tend to be brightly coloured which acts as a warning to predators that they should stay away.
Some non-venomous snakes are also brightly coloured. This is so predators will be fooled into thinking that they dangerous and leave them alone.
Camouflage is a defense that animals use to disguise their appearance and blend in with their surroundings. This allows them to hide their location and movement.
Many snakes have similar colouring to their environment, as a means of camouflage, which helps them to stay hidden from both predators and prey. Some snakes can burrow down under sand or leaves for extra coverage.