34 Intriguing Facts about Snakes: You Ever Wanted to Know
Slithering, hissing and sneaking, snakes find their way into homes in the most peculiar ways. Maybe you’ve seen a few in your garden, or maybe you’ve had the displeasure of finding one waiting for you in the home’s bathroom.
Snakes can sneak up on you and catch you by surprise.
Whether you’re dealing with one or many, it helps to understand your enemy – in this case, snakes – if you want to rid your home of these pests.
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Table of Contents
- 1. Are Snakes Reptiles, or Are Snakes Mammals?
- 2. Are Snakes Cold Blooded?
- 3. Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
- 4. Do Snakes Have Bones?
- 5. Do Snakes Poop?
- 6. Do Snakes Sleep?
- 7. Do Snakes Yawn?
- 8. Do Snakes Fart?
- 9. Can Snakes Hear?
- 10. Can Snakes Smell?
- 11. Do Snakes Drink Water?
- 12. Do Snakes Nurse Their Young?
- 13. How Often Do Snakes Give Birth?
- 14.Do Snakes Have Lungs?
- 15. What Snakes Give Live Birth?
- 16. Do Snakes Hibernate?
- 17. Do Snakes Dig Holes?
- 18. Do Snakes Have Legs?
- 19. Do Snakes Have Teeth?
- 20. How Does Snake Venom Affect Your Blood?
- 21. Are Snakes Blind?
- 22. How Do Snakes Mate?
- 23. Are Snakes Vertebrates?
- 24. Can Snakes Swim?
- 25. Can Snakes Climb Walls?
- 26. Do Snakes Have Spines?
- 27. What Do Snakes Eat?
- 31. Are Snakes Amphibians?
- 32. Do Snakes Have Scales?
- 33. Do Snakes Come Out At Night?
- 34. Are Snakes Good Pets?
1. Are Snakes Reptiles, or Are Snakes Mammals?
Snakes are elongated reptiles that don’t have legs and are carnivorous (meaning they eat meat).
Snakes fall into the same category as crocodiles, turtles and lizards even through their appearance is completely different.
2. Are Snakes Cold Blooded?
Yes. Like all other reptiles, snakes are cold blooded creatures. They raise their body temperature by laying in the sun, but they can also lower their temperature by slithering into the shade.
3. Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
Some do, but not all. About 70% of snakes lay eggs, while the remaining 30% have live births. Egg-laying snakes are known as oviparous, and they tend to live in warmer climates. Warmer temperatures help incubate the eggs.
Viviparous snakes give birth to live babies, and typically live in cooler climates where the ground is too cold for eggs to develop.
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4. Do Snakes Have Bones?
Yes, actually. Snakes are known for their extreme flexibility, but they actually do have bones. In fact, their backbones have many vertebrae that attach to their ribs.
A snake’s skeleton consists of a skull, ribs and vertebrae. The skull of a snake is incredibly complex, and its design allows it to swallow prey that’s much larger than its head.
Snakes have jaws, too, and contrary to what you may have heard, their lower jaws don’t come unhinged. In fact, their lower jaw isn’t even all one piece – the middle is separated and attached by ligaments. This lets snakes move each side independently, so it can move its food down a little at a time.
5. Do Snakes Poop?
Yes, but not often. Unlike other animals, snakes secrete both solid and liquid waste from the same hole: the cloaca, which is located at the base of the tail.
Snakes eliminate waste infrequently, so you’re not likely to find any droppings around your home. But when they do poop, it’s usually the same width as its body!
6. Do Snakes Sleep?
Yes. But I’ve never seen a snake with its eyes closed.
That’s because snakes don’t have eyelids. Even though they can’t close their eyes, snakes can sleep perfectly fine. Unlike other animals, the brain of the snake is what controls the sleep process. When they’re ready to sleep, they don’t have to shut their eyes to initiate the process.
How can you tell if a snake is asleep? Check to see if it’s moving. If a snake is totally still, it may just be taking an afternoon nap.
7. Do Snakes Yawn?
Yes, strangely enough snakes do yawn. But it’s not for the same reason you or I yawn.
If a snake is staring you down and goes for a big yawn, he’s not getting ready for a nap. He’s getting ready for a meal.
Snakes may also “yawn” (or hold their mouths open) to get chemical clues about their environment. A tiny organ called the Jacobson’s Organ is located on the roof of the snake’s mouth. Each time he flicks his tongue in and out, his tongue touches the organ and gives him information about his environment.
Snakes flick their tongues to pick up on scents in the air, and send that information to the Jacobson’s Organ. These clues let the snake know what type of prey is nearby.
8. Do Snakes Fart?
Can snakes fart? Some do. The Sonoran Coral Snake farts as a defense mechanism. Known as “cloacal popping,” this snake makes a popping noise that can be heard up to two meters away. These pops may be repeated several times, and sound just like human farts.
But most other snakes only fart when there’s excessive air in the digestive tract, which could indicate a medical issue.
Some snakes will defecate and make similar popping noises to deter predators. The smell can be overwhelmingly unpleasant – and that’s putting it mildly.
9. Can Snakes Hear?
Do snakes have ears, or are snakes deaf? A common question, and a good one. Snakes don’t have visible ears, and they can’t hear in a traditional sense (or as we know it). Rather, they “hear” through vibrations that pass through their skin and muscles.
At one time, scientists believed snakes were deaf, but new research shows that they can not only detect sounds, but respond to them as well.
Some research suggests that snakes can hear airborne sounds through their internal ears, but they can also pick up on airborne sounds when soundwaves hit their skin.
Just like with humans, the louder the sound is, the easier it is for the snake to “hear” it. And just so you know, snakes can hear us humans talking as well.
What exactly do snakes do with their hearing? They don’t communicate with each other through sound, so what’s the point of hearing? Some will rattle and hiss at predators, but the snakes themselves can’t actually hear the sounds they’re making.
While we don’t know for sure, it’s believed that snakes use their hearing to monitor their environment, so they know when predators or prey are nearby.
10. Can Snakes Smell?
Yes. Snakes have an excellent sense of smell, and that’s partly to make up for their terrible eyesight and poor hearing.
Snakes can smell through their nostrils just like we do, but they do their best sniffing through their Jacobson’s organ, also known as a vomeronasal organ.
Each time a snake flickers his tongue, he’s “smelling” his environment.
A snake first sniffs with his nose, and if he picks up on something interesting, he’ll flick his tongue to get more information. And the design of their tongues help them stay hot on the trail of interesting scents. Snakes have a forked tongue, so one side may pick up on the scent more strongly than the other, helping the snake stay on top of his prey.
11. Do Snakes Drink Water?
Yes, but not like how we drink water. For many years, it was believed that snakes got all the water they needed from their prey – the rats and mice they ate. Now, new research shows that skin creases in the snake’s lower jaw actually soak up water, similar to a sponge.
A snake’s tongue is too small to lap up water, but even if it were larger, it’s covered in a sheath that prevents it from lapping up water anyway. Snakes also can’t tilt their heads back to drink.
The tiny folds in the snake’s skin act like little tubes in sponges, drawing up water into the snake’s mouth using capillary action. The snake’s muscles then squeeze the water down to its gut.
12. Do Snakes Nurse Their Young?
Do snakes nurse? No. Like other reptiles, snakes do not nurse their young. In fact, most snakes don’t care for their offspring at all. A select few species will protect their eggs and the new babies for a short time, but baby snakes are usually left to fend for themselves.
13. How Often Do Snakes Give Birth?
Female snakes either lay eggs or give birth twice per year. Certain species will actually carry the eggs in their bodies until the eggs hatch.
One snake can have anywhere between one and 150 babies at one time.
And unlike chicken eggs, snake eggs have leather-like shells. The shells are torn open by the baby snake from the inside with its “egg tooth,” which the baby loses shortly after it hatches.
14.Do Snakes Have Lungs?
Yes. A snake’s respiratory system has four parts: a windpipe (or trachea), lungs, bronchi and air sac. The trachea is located at the back of the oral cavity and extends all the way to the heart. From here, it branches into two bronchi, which connect to the right and left lungs.
While snakes do have two lungs, the left lung is vestigial, which means it’s small and non-functioning. The right lung, on the other hand, is elongated and helps with breathing.
Snakes don’t have diaphragms, so air enters and leaves their lungs using the muscles in their body and movement in the ribs.
15. What Snakes Give Live Birth?
Snakes that live in cooler climates give live birth because the ground is too cold for the eggs to develop naturally.
Both viviparous and ovoviviparous snakes give birth to live babies. Ovoviviparous are snakes that carry eggs inside their bodies until they hatch.
Which snakes fall under these categories?
- Most vipers
- Rattlesnakes – Baby rattlesnakes are born with fangs and venom.
- Most sea snakes
- Garter snake
16. Do Snakes Hibernate?
Sort of. Snakes are cold blooded, so their body temperatures are completely dependent on their environment. Snakes that live in cold climates must hibernate in winter, or the cold temperatures will kill them.
17. Do Snakes Dig Holes?
They can. While snakes don’t hibernate in the traditional sense (like bears do), they do burrow underground and their metabolism slows down until temperatures warm up.
18. Do Snakes Have Legs?
Snakes don’t have legs – right? Wrong. Some actually do have legs, but they’re vestigial. Both boa constrictors and pythons have very small hind leg bones, but they’re buried in the muscles near their tail ends.
While these leg bones are useless to snakes, they do serve as evidence that snakes descended from lizards. More than 100 million years ago, some lizards were born with smaller legs, which helped them move more quickly in certain environments. Over time, all of the lizards in this group were born with shorter legs, and eventually, no legs at all.
19. Do Snakes Have Teeth?
Most do. Nearly all snakes have four rows of teeth on the top and two on the bottom.
But only poisonous snakes have fangs.
Snake fangs are long pointed teeth that connect to a small sac behind the snake’s eyes. These sacs are what produce venom. When the snake bites, its fangs release venom, which paralyzes or kills the victim.
Some snakes have really long fangs that fold back into their mouths to keep them from biting themselves. And unlike human teeth, snakes will regrow lost fangs.
20. How Does Snake Venom Affect Your Blood?
Most people are curious what snake venom does to blood. Different types of venom have different effects.
Russell’s pit vipers are particularly dangerous, and kill thousands of people each year in Southeast Asia. Just one drop coagulates the blood in seconds – meaning it turns the blood into one big solidified clump.
Interesting fact: 30% of people who survive a bite from Russell’s pit vipers suffer from what’s called “reverse puberty.” Their pituitary gland becomes damaged, which causes them to lose their sex drive, body hair and fertility. Some have cognitive issues, too.
Sea snakes are believed to be the most poisonous of snakes. Other venomous snakes include:
Cobras can spit venom up to six feet away.
Scientists collect venom from poisonous snakes (called “milking”) to create anti-venom that treats snake bite victims.
21. Are Snakes Blind?
Some are. But most snakes are not, although their eyesight is very poor. Snakes rely on their sense of smell and vibrations to catch their prey.
Cobras and vipers, on the other hand, do have a good vision – a scary thought, since they’re both poisonous.
22. How Do Snakes Mate?
When female snakes are ready to mate, they leave a scent, or pheromones, behind that create a trail as she slithers along. When a male snake picks up on the scent, he follows the trail until he finds her.
Male snakes court females, just like other animals do before mating. They start off by bumping their chin on the back of the female’s head and crawling over her. If she’s willing, she’ll lift her tail, and he’ll wrap his tail around hers.
The two tails meet at the cloaca. The cloaca is where snakes excrete waste, but it’s also where reproductive fluid is inserted. Males insert their hemipenes (two sex organs), which extend and then release sperm.
Snakes mate in less than an hour, but the entire process can sometimes last as long as an entire day.
23. Are Snakes Vertebrates?
Yes. All animals that have bones are considered vertebrates, and as mentioned previously, snakes do have bones.
24. Can Snakes Swim?
Yes, all snakes can swim. And sea snakes, which can be highly poisonous, spend most of their time near or in water.
Snakes swim through water by moving their bodies sideways in a wave-like motion. Essentially, they move in an S pattern. This movement starts in the snake’s head, and continues down its body – just like how snakes move on flat, smooth surfaces.
Water snakes have flatter sides than other snakes, which makes them especially efficient swimmers.
25. Can Snakes Climb Walls?
Yes, some species of snakes can climb walls. Considering how snakes move, it’s no surprise that they can slither their way up a wall.
But snakes can’t climb any old wall – they need something to grab onto and push off of. Snakes can’t “stick” to walls like rats, lizards and insects.
Typically, you’ll only see snakes climbing brick walls for this reason.
26. Do Snakes Have Spines?
Yes. Snakes have backbones with many tiny vertebrae attached.
27. What Do Snakes Eat?
Snakes are carnivorous animals, so they only eat other animals. There is no such thing as an herbivorous snake.
Small snakes eat small animals. Large snakes eat large animals. Tiny snakes eat insects.
While snakes aren’t too picky about what they eat, they tend to prefer birds and rodents. Snakes catch their prey either by injecting venom or squeezing them to death with their constricting coils.
The green anaconda, the largest snake in the world, can eat very large animals, including humans.
Snakes eat eggs, too, from time to time.
Non-venomous and non-constricting snakes usually eat smaller prey that they can easily swallow whole.
28. Do Snakes Eat Frogs?
They can, although they prefer rodents and birds.
29. Do Snakes Eat Rabbits?
Larger snakes may eat rabbits. In fact, some species of snakes target red-blooded animals, like rabbits.
30. Does a Snake Drink Milk?
No, but they do drink water.
31. Are Snakes Amphibians?
No. Snakes are reptiles. Amphibians are a group of animals that include frogs, caecilians, toads and salamanders.
32. Do Snakes Have Scales?
Yes. Their scales are called “spectacle,” and they shed their skin (or scales) every so often.
33. Do Snakes Come Out At Night?
Snakes are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. They come out whenever they can. Because they’re cold-blooded, a snake’s body temperature rises or falls depending on its environment. For this reason, snakes hunt whenever they can. If it’s too hot or cold, they can’t survive.
Because snakes tend to prefer eating rodents (which are nocturnal), we do know that they come out at night from time to time.
34. Are Snakes Good Pets?
They can be. Not all snakes are bad, and many people enjoy keeping them as pets. But they do require special care and attention to keep them balanced and happy in captivity.