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General Snake Information

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes paired organs appear one in front of the other, instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung.

Most species of snakes are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey. Some possess venom potent enough to cause serious injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow their prey alive or kill by constriction.

Facts About Snakes

  • There are over 3000 snake species in the world, and about 375 of these are venomous.
  • Snake venom is a complex mixture of proteins that, once release, rapidly spreads through the victims body.
  • Neurotoxic venom, which can destroy a humans nervous system, is the variety that kills quickest.
  • The Anaconda can grow up to 38 feet in length.
  • The Brahminy blind snake is just 2 inches long, making it the smallest snake in history.
  • All snakes have two lungs, a liver, kidneys and intestines.
  • The last quarter of the snake has a small anal opening covered by a scale called the anal plate.
  • The paradise tree-snake of south-east Asia can ‘fly’ through the air by flattening its body into an s-shaped ribbon. This snake has now been sold all over the world.
  • Most snake species lay eggs, and most of those species abandon them shortly after laying
  • Some species give birth to live young.
  • Snakes swallow their prey whole, even if it is larger in diameter than the snake itself.
  • Snakes travel by relaxing and contracting muscles lengthwise along the body.
  • Sidewinding is a specialized form of motion that allows snakes to travel with speed
  • Snakes have no eyelids.
  • Snakes have a transparent scale protecting their eye.
  • Snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Snakes have internal ears only, not external ones.
  • Snakes used in snake charming performances respond only to movement
  • All snakes are covered in scales.
  • A snakes skin is smooth and dry.
  • Most snakes shed their skin a number of times a year in a process that usually lasts a few days.
  • Snakes smell with their Jacobson’s organ.
  • Pythons kill their food by tightly wrapping around it and suffocating it in a process called constriction.
  • Some sea snakes can breathe through their skin, allowing for longer dives underwater.
  • Python reticulates can grow over 49 ft in length and are considered the longest snakes in the world.

Some Diseases directly transmitted by Snakes

  • Salmonella
  • Botulism
  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Trichinellosis

Damage

The majority of snakes are non-venomous and typically kill their prey with constriction rather than venom, venomous snakes can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Most snakes often bite their prey as a method of hunting, but also for defensive purposes against predators. Since the appearance of snakes may differ, there is often no practical way to identify a species and we suggest that you seek professional medical attention if bitten.

The risk of being bitten by a snake can be lowered with preventive measures, such as wearing protective footwear & protective clothing and avoiding areas known to be inhabited by dangerous snakes. The outcome of a snake bite depends on numerous factors, including the species of snake, the area of the body bitten, the amount of venom injected & released, and the health conditions of the person. Feelings of panic are common after a snakebite and can produce a characteristic set of symptoms mediated by the autonomic nervous system, such as a racing heart, vomiting and nausea. Bites from non-venomous snakes can also cause injury & infection, often due to lacerations caused by the snake's teeth, or from a resulting infection. A bite could also trigger an anaphylactic reaction, which is potentially fatal. Seek first aid if your have been bitten by a snake.

The number of snakebites that occur each year are in the millions. This results in approximately 125,000 deaths yearly. Affected areas include rural areas lacking the proper training & medical facilities.

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