Snakes are reptiles that have an elongated body that is flexible and limbless. The shape of the body of snakes is dependent on the habitat they live in. For example, snakes that burrow underground have a tendency of being more compact, whereas the types that live in trees tend to be slender and long equipped with a prehensile tail which they use to grasp branches, while the body of aquatic snakes is generally flattened.
Snakes occur in a large variety of colors, ranging from dull to brilliant hues with striking patterns. Snakes that have dull coloring use it for camouflage, while those that are brightly colored are usually poisonous. They use their bright colors to warn predators to stay off. Some non-poisonous snakes mimic the patterns and bright colors of poisonous snakes to fool predators.
As for the size, while the anaconda can grow up to 38 feet in length, the brahminy blind snake is just 2 inches long, making it the smallest snake.
Snakes occur practically all over the world, apart from places like Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica. However, it is in the tropical regions of the world that most snakes are found.
Like all reptiles, snakes are cold-blooded, which means they do not have the ability of generating adequate amounts of heat in order to keep their body temperature at a constant level. Instead, they are dependent on the heat from their surroundings and the sun to control the temperature of their body. This is the reason most snake species are found in the humid and warm climes of tropical regions.
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 have the ability of surviving without food for many days at a stretch after having a filling meal. This is because they have a slow rate of metabolism. In fact, the King Cobra, for example, can go for months without food.
Snakes do not have any eyelids; instead, a transparent scale protects their eyes. Also, they are deaf to airborne sounds, and they ‘hear’ by picking up vibrations through their jawbones.
Plus, snakes use their forked tongue to smell. The tongue gathers particles that are airborne which it then passes to the Jacobson’s Organ, a specialized organ located on the roof of the snake’s mouth.
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.
Snakes have more than 200 teeth, which they do not use to chew, since they point backwards, but bite and grip their prey securely.
Being extremely shy animals, we are just beginning to learn more interesting facts about snakes. However, many of their species are disappearing completely for various reasons like being wantonly killed due to fear or for their skins, while their habitats are being continuously eroded and destroyed by us.