With it’s long slender body the snake’s probably the funniest shaped creature you will ever encounter. There are many points about this wonderful Reptile that make it a high asset to the world. It has been said that people are always afraid of what’s different, afraid of what they don’t know. Well, in less than 10 min, I promise you will know all the answers to all the questions that you have ever had about snakes. From questions like what is a Thamnophis sirtalis, to were the butt is located.
First of all, let’s dispel any of the rumors that are around about these guys. Despite popular belief, the snake does not swallow there young to protect them from harm the stomach would start to digest them. Snakes do not milk cows (thank goodness for the cow snakes teeth are sharp). This one came around from fear and adrenaline, but snake cannot crawl faster than a human can run. The tongue of the snake is not a stinger (though they do tickle). And, snakes are not slimy,
Now that we have started uncovering the truth about these reptiles we can start at the top. In the world today there are about 2,500 known species of snakes belonging to more than 10 families. In the U.S. there are about 127 species, with 38 species found within Kansas (with 5 venomous ones).
Most people wonder what will happen to them if they do happen to encounter a snake. Will I get bitten, is it venomous, will I die, is someone going to have to suck the poison out of there, is it trying to kill me, should I try to kill him? Allot of things are happening at this point, well more than likely the snake is just trying to defend himself. And he has all the right to do so. First of all you disrupted the snake, it did not disrupt you. How would you feel if A 5 to 6 foot thing with two legs and hair growing on it almost stepped on you and you were a only a half foot off the ground, you would be pretty scared to.
More than likely the snake is a harmless one. If by chance the snake is a venomous or dangerous snake just simply stop, and walk slowly away from it. Do not threaten it or try to kill it, just back away. With all this talk about confrontation and how to avoid the snake, I would be good if I mentioned the size of what to stay on the look out for.
Snakes come in all sizes from super small and sleek to large and cumbersome. Most snakes on the other hand are an average of two to eight feet. Snake have been recorded to having reached up to 36.5 feet. And there are certain breeds that are found to only grow to 1 to 1.5 feet. The diversity of snakes is almost comparable to none. The size of A snake effects the number of vertebrae that it would have. All snakes have A minimum of 100 vertebrae, some up to 400. The human body only has 32. With the ribs of a snake attached through ligaments and muscles the snake has much more allowance for movement and expandability of the ribcage. The human body is less flexible because our bones are directly connected one another.
Above Right: the skeleton of a snake.
Left: A snake starting it’s shedding, it does this by rubbing its nose against a rock or another rough surface.
Some people believe that the snake is a slimy creature. This could not be any farther from the truth! “The snake’s skin is made out of a hard, dry material called keratin”(num. 2/A).
“Depending on the snake, it can shed every 20 days to once a year”(3). The reason for this is. The skin of a snake can not expand and grow with the snake as it is maturing. When they outgrow themselves they form a new skin layer and shed the old one off.
Snake’s do put wear and tear on the skin to at times to. So they may shed a layer even after the snake is done growing.
If you look closely at a snake that is preparing to shed it’s skin you can tell that its color has faded and the eyes are clouded over. This is caused when the snake is growing the new layer of skin, and the older, worn layer is ready to come off. The snake will usually start to remove the skin by rubbing the nose on a rock or other rough object. When the snake is finished the outer body is completely rid of its outer layer eyes and all are replaced. The excess shedding is usually all in one piece.
Have you ever wondered why a snake stick’s its tongue out, is it because it thinks you’re ugly? No, what its doing is smelling, and tasting at once. “The snake continuously flicks out its forked tongue to collect scent particles from the air and the ground. When the tongue draws back into the mouth, the forked tips fit into cell-lined pockets in the Jacobson’s organ, which detects the odors of the particles it receives. This system is keenly sensitive, and snakes rely on it to locate both mates and prey”(3).
Jacobson’s Organ; An extrasensory organ in the roof of a snake’s mouth sharpens its sense of smell. Called Jacobson’s organ, it consists of two hollow, highly sensitive saclike structures. The snake’s acute odor perception allows it to track both prey and potential mates.
How about ear’s can they hear? Well, no, and yes. The snake doe’s not have eardrums and the snake is not designed to do allot of hearing. But it is found to have “low-frequency bones in their head to help sense vibrations in the water or on the ground”(3). Surprisingly the snake in general has very good vision. Witch helps them to strike their prey accurately and safely.
Pit vipers, boas, and pythons all use heat sensitive pits located where you would guess the nose would be located at. These pits give them the ability to sense heat waves in the air, put off by other animals. This sense is highly tuned and “gives the snake the ability to pick up heat fluxuations by half a degree”(4).
There is a saying, ” slithering like a snake” well, witch way? I bet most people do not know that the snake can move in more than one way. In fact “there are four different ways a snake can move , serpentine locomotion, a simple crawl, is the most common and the fastest. The snake contracts its muscles to produce a series of waves in its body, pushing from the back of each wave to move forward. Snakes also use serpentine locomotion to swim.
“In rectilinear, or caterpillar, movement, a heavy snake uses enlarged belly scales to grip the ground. A third method in which the snake pulls itself forward by bunching and lengthening its strong muscles in a springlike manner, are useful for climbing”(3). The least common kind of locomotion is that of some desert-dwelling snakes. Called sidewinding, this motion involves lifting a loop of the body clear of the ground as the snake moves sideways. Sidewinding keeps the snake from slipping in loose sand.
When there is a wide variety of snake in the world, You must not be surprised that they have such a wide variety of prey. Depending on the snake they can eat anything from slugs to crocodiles. Some snakes eat eggs, they have special modified teeth for breaking the shell.” most pythons when young start by feeding on small prey like rats but when they start to mature they can eat monkeys, wild pigs, and small deer. Since Snakes are carnivores, they eat anything that is roughly there size.
Most snakes are constrictors meaning that when attacking prey the snake would first bite there prey to hold it while quickly wrapping it’s self around the prey, squeezing the victim every time the prey exhales to take in another breath the snake constricts even more. slowly the victim dies from loss of oxygen. Or the snake is so much more powerful than its prey that is crushes its internal organs.
Other methods of catching food is to inject venom into the prey. From there the venom depending on the snake will go to you’re heart or the central nervous system. If the venom flows to the heart, it would be pumped throughout the body. First you will feel weak, this being a sign that you’re muscles are starting to deteriorate and then the victim would die, half digested before the snake eats you. which ever one is used they will do about the same amount of harm.
Caution; This is a copperhead snake, the most commonly
found venomous snake in Kansas.
Though snakes is widely misunderstood and feared. People should understand there importance in nature. To me they are a silent warrior in some respects, gone unrecognized in there vital role they play. However you’re feelings are on this topic, either good or bad its you’re opinion, either way I still get a good grade on this assignment! I believe Obi-Wan from Star Wars
said it well, in reference to snakes of course. “You and the snake form a cymbian circle what effects one will effect the other.”
Its funny to me that something so feared, and hated by society is needed for our survival.
By Bryce Wilson
Collins, Joseph. (1998). ” A guide to great snakes of Kansas”. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
“Snake quiz.” (2000, April, 26), http://www.snakequiz.com/fragor1.cgi.
“Microsoft Encarta 2000” (1993-1999). [Computer program]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.
“The timber rattlesnake” www.mpm.edu/collect/vertzo/herp/timber/factsne1.html.