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Published by Leanne Erasga

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Published by: Leanne Erasga on Jul 01, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ALL ABOUT SNAKESCENTURIES OF SLITHERINGSnakes are part of the reptile family. Like all reptiles, they are cold-blooded. Theyhave a long narrow body and scaly skin. There are about 2,600 species of snake.Snakes have been around for 100 million years.POETRY IN MOTIONSnakes have no legs and yet they move fast. This is because a snake’s backbone ismade up of hundreds vertebrae. Moving together, these make the snake a marvel of flexibility, strength and speed.SNAKES STYLESSnakes are wonderful creatures. There are many different varieties all with theirown unique colors, patterns and behaviors. They have evolved to blend in with theenvironment and some have bright colors to warn away predators.SKIN PATTERNS The most useful way of identifying snakes is through color and pattern. Somesnakes have a head that has a different color from the body. Others have color thatgradually blends from one color to another, and some have spots, blotches, orbands.PREDATORSSnakes are versatile and highly evolved predators. Many are specialized feeders,while others eat a wide range of prey. Snakes have poor eyesight and hearing, sorely on well-developed senses of smell, tastes, and temperature to survive.SNAKES ARE EVERYWHERE… There are snakes on every continent except Antarctica. Snakes thrive everywhere. The biggest snakes are found in tropical jungles, but snakes also live on Arcticmountainsides and desserts.UNDER YOUR FEET AND UP IN THE SKY!Snakes can burrow into the earth, swim in rivers and oceans, and climb trees usingtheir tails to grip branches. Some snakes even glide between trees! Brown watersnakes look scary, especially when they drop into your boat from a tree, but they’reharmless unless your prey.SEA SNAKESSome snakes live in the sea. They have special flattened tails for swimming andhave valves over their nostrils which they close underwater. Sometimes confusedwith eels, sea snakes don’t have gill slits or scales. Due to the need to breathe air,
they are usually found in shallow water where they swim along the bottom feedingon fish, fish eggs, and eels.SNOW SNAKESSnakes are found even up in the Arctic Circle and in high mountains. To survive thecolds, these snakes have dark colored skin to absorb sunlight, they give birth to liveyoung, and hibernate during winter, living off body fat.ON THE MOVEA snake has very powerful muscles and can move fast. A snake doesn’t need arms—its muscles do all the work! Snakes have evolved to move in different waysdepending on the speed at which they want to move and the type of surface they’reon.FASTEST SNAKES The fastest snakes “zig-zag,” moving their bodies in S-shapes. Thicker snakes likeboas slither along in the straight lines. Desert snakes move sideways, leaving J-shaped marks behind.FLYING SNAKESSome snakes can stretched then pull their bodies from one point to another. Bycalling up and then straightening out quickly, some tree-dwelling snakes can jumpand glide over 330 ft (100 m). Tree-snakes have lighter, thinner bodies than ground-dwelling snakes or burrowingsnakes. They have to have strong vertebrae to help them crawl over large gaps inthe trees, and very strong tails to grasps branches.FLEXIBLESnakes can have as many as 400 vertebrae which work together to make them veryflexible. This is especially useful for tree snakes.FAVORITE FOODAll snakes are carnivores which mean that they only eat meat. Smaller snakes loveto eat bugs and frogs, and larger snakes often ear birds, rodents, and rabbits. Theyswallow prey whole and many can unhinge their jaws to swallow large prey.SQUEEZING LUNCH INSnakes like boas, anacondas, corn snakes, and rat snakes squeeze prey to death,the snake coils itself around on animal, slowly tightening the coils until the animalstops breathing. The king snake eats rattlesnakes. It coils around the rattlesnakethen it alive!DEADLY VENOM
Some snakes, such as cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes kill or stun prey withpoisonous bites. Their fangs are filled with poison called venom, which allows themto paralyze or kill their prey, making the animal easier to eat. Venomous snakesoften have bright colors or patterns to warn other animals and people of the dangerthey pose. The rattlesnake warns other creatures of its deadly bites by shaking arattle at the end of its tail. TRUE COLORSSnakes are experts in using color to survive. The color of a snake’s skin is often thesame as the color of its environment. This camouflage, as the different colors canblur into one color when it is moving.FAKING ITSome colors are warnings. Red, yellow, black and white mean ‘keep away – I’mdangerous.’ This can be a trick: the harmless ring-necked snake mimics the colors of venomous snakes to scare off predators.FIGHTING THE ENEMYBirds of prey like eagles are the snake’s worst enemy. Snakes have lots of ways of defending themselves from predators. Some curl up into a ball. Harmless gartersnakes let off horrible smells. Other snakes roll onto their backs, go stiff and playdead.WARNING SIGNSSnakes try really hard not to attack. They will hiss, bare their fangs and makepretend strikes. Some cobras spit venom. The harmless gopher snake hisses awarning which sounds like the rattle of a deadly rattlesnake.BITING BACK When threatened most snakes want to flee rather than confront a human or otherlarge animal that could harm them. Biting is the only way that most snakes have todefend themselves—it is not always a sign the snake is venomous or that it isvicious. Just remember, snakes are normally more scared of you than you are of them.STANDING TALLCobras have perhaps the most spectacular method of warning other creatures tostay away. When threatened they can stand up the front third of their bodies anderect a patterned hood around their heads. A hissing cobra raised up in a warningpose can be a spectacular, if not scary, sight.SNAKE BABIES

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