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There are about 2,700 species of snakes, of these
375 are venomous. In the United States, ten species are listed as threatened and
seven species are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.|
Snakes are elongated, limbless, flexible reptiles.
Their body shape depends on the habitat in which they live. Aquatic snakes
usually have a flattened body; those living in trees are long and slender with a
prehensile tail while burrowing snakes tend to be compact. Snakes are found in a
huge range of colors, from bright to dull. Brightly colored snakes are usually
venomous, their coloration serving as a warning to predators, while dull colored
snakes use their coloration for camouflage. Some snakes mimic the color and
pattern of venomous snakes.
Brahminy blind snakes are the smallest snake at two
inches in length. The anaconda can reach lengths of 38 feet.
In captivity, some species will live as long as 50
Snakes are found throughout the world except Antarctica,
Iceland, Ireland, Greenland and New Zealand.
Most snakes are found in tropical regions.
Snakes are found in many habitats including in the
water, forests, deserts and prairies.
Snakes consume a variety of items including termites,
rodents, birds, frogs, small deer and other reptiles. Snakes eat their prey
whole and are able to consume prey three times larger than the diameter of
their head because their lower jaw can separate from the upper jaw. To keep
prey from escaping, snakes have rear-facing teeth that hold their prey in
their mouths. Venomous snakes inject their prey with venom, while
constrictors squeeze their prey. They do not need to hunt everyday. Anacondas
and pythons can survive for up to a year without food after feeding. Snakes
hunt mostly at night.
Often observed flicking itís tongue, snakes use
their forked tongue to smell the air.
Snakes are ectotherms, meaning they must regulate their body temperature
externally by sunning themselves or retreating to cool, shaded areas. Snakes
hibernate during the winter. Snakes must shed their skin three to six times
Most snake species lay eggs, but
some species give birth to live young. Snakes lay their eggs in a warm
location. With the exception of some python species, eggs and young are not
cared for by the male or female.
Roads, habitat destruction.
Endangered Species Act