Fun Facts about Snakes

Author: Discovery Deadly   Date Posted:19 September 2021 

Interesting Snake Facts

  • Snakes are a reptile – they have been around for approximately 100 million years and evolved from prehistoric lizards. Snakes are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica.

  • There are around 3000 different species of snake in the world. In Australia we have around 140 species of land snake and around 32 species of sea snake. Australia is home to the most diverse range of reptiles anywhere in the world, including some of the top 25 “most venomous snakes.”

  • Snakes, like all reptiles are ECTOTHERMS. They rely on external sources (like the sun) to give them energy. They will move between basking in the sun and hiding in the shade to keep their bodies at their preferred temperature. Without warmth snakes do not have enough energy to digest their food or move around.

  • Snakes do not hibernate but enter a state of reduced metabolic rate called BRUMATION during cooler weather periods. Many snakes stop eating during winter and conserve energy by not moving around as much. On a warm sunny day in the middle of winter snakes may still come out and bask.

  • Snakes are NOT aggressive. They are shy secretive animals. Snakes do not bite out of malice and they certainly do not go looking for enemies. They will defend their lives if/when needed. Snakes DO like to be left alone.

  • Snakes are mostly solitary animals. They do not live in family groups. They will come together during mating season, which in the South West is October – December.

  • Snakes are NOT territorial. They do have a home range that they move around in depending on the seasons, but this range can overlap with other snakes and animals. Within their range they know where to find food, water and shelter.

  • Snakes do have bones. Despite being incredibly flexible they are known as a vertebrate (animals with bones). A snakes back bone (or spine) is made up of many vertebrae attached to ribs. Adult humans have 24 ribs, a total of 206 bones. Snakes can have up to 33 ribs, a total of up to 1200 bones. 

  • Snakes have no external ears. They are mostly deaf to airborne sounds. They do have an inner ear (like humans), which helps with balance. You can shout/scream as loud while walking in the bush but it simply wont scare a snake away.

  • Snakes have smooth dry skin that is covered in scales. These scales are made of Keratin. That’s the same substance that is in human hair and nails. A snakes scales are sensitive. Each individual scale has the same sensitivity as the end of your fingertip!

  • Snakes shed their skin. They do this a number of times a year – mostly in the warmer weather seasons when they are eating more and growing.  The process known as SLOUGHING can take several weeks. While a snake is in its ‘shed’ cycle it is very vulnerable and will tend to hide. 

  • Snakes do not have good eyesight. They respond to movement, which scares them.  Most snake species do not see in colour. If you stand completely still in-front of a snake it cant tell the difference between you and a tree or a rock.

  • Snakes do not have eyelids. They do have an eye ‘spectacle’ which protect their eye. This ‘spectacle’ comes away when a snake sheds it’s skin.

  • Pythons can make an excellent and interesting pet. They require little daily maintenance or cost and can live in captivity for up to 25/30 + years. 

  • Venomous snakes have special glands and teeth (fangs) designed to inject venom into their prey. Venom – is a highly modified saliva, it immobilises prey and also aids in digestion by breaking down food. It is not designed to attack humans. A venomous snake has no idea that it has venom – it just knows that when it bites an object it eventually stops moving and can be eaten. Venom can also be used in self defence.

  • Snakes have a very acute sense of smell and taste – they use their forked tongue to pick up scents. Just like you use your nose. They are interested in the scent of prey, predators, a potential mate, a rival or their own trail.

  • Snakes are carnivores (meat eaters). Their diet mostly consists of small mammals.  Snakes will eat mice, rats, rabbits, birds, possums, bats, lizards, skinks, geckos, other snakes and frogs. Without snakes sharing our habitat we would be over-run with vermin.

  • Snakes swallow their prey whole – they can eat a prey item up to 10 times bigger than the size of their head – that’s like a human swallowing a whole pig!! Snakes are able to do this as their jaws are not fused by bone like a human jaw – instead the top and bottom jaw are joined by stretchy muscles and ligaments.              

  • Snakes can be venomous or non venomous. There are over 700 species of venomous snake in the world. 33 of these species are in Australia with 4 local to the South West region. Tiger Snake, Dugite, Bardick and Crowned Snake. There are around 40 Python (non venomous) snakes worldwide with 15 known species in Australia. Our only local species is the South West Carpet Python. 

  • Pythons (non venomous snakes), kill their prey by tightly wrapping around it crushing and suffocating. A process called constriction.  

  • Pythons do not have fangs like venomous snakes. They have up to 80 small needle sharp recurved (slope backwards) teeth. They have one two rows either side on the bottom and top jaw – PLUS an extra two rows in the middle of the top jaw.
    OUCH! – that’s a lot of teeth.     

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