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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:14 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:28 am
Posts: 19
Ten Fun Facts about Snakes - That You were Probably Told Wrong.

1. Snakes ARE cold-blooded, but that doesn't mean their blood is cold. It’s room temperature (whatever temperature the room happens to be that is). That’s why people who touch my animals after my show frequently remark that they’re cold to the touch. Your skin is about ninety degrees on the surface - room temperature can be twenty degrees cooler.

2. Ever heard of a snake hole? Yeah well, there’s no such thing. Think about it. Everything that digs a hole, what does it use to do so? If a snake is in a hole, the snake stole the hole. Usually to escape the human who saw him go in – ergo the myth of snake holes. They can burrow in soft loam, sand or very soft soil, but very shallow which doesn't leave a hole.

3. The fastest snake in the US goes about six and a half mph. A human who has seen the snake, can accomplish bursts of fifteen. Beyond that, a human, even a small one – is far too big to eat from the snake’s point of view – and therefore big enough to be eaten by. In the snake’s world, everything too big to eat seems to be trying to be the next step up in the food chain. And most are faster, have better vision and have more weapons.

The snake’s only advantages in most situations are the sense of smell, the ability to hide in the tiniest of places and good camouflage. Some add a big sense of false bravado and a musk gland (Don’t wanna be eaten in the wild? Smell really bad - ask any skunk.) And of course, a few have venom – but it’s not meant primarily for defense. Therefore, given half the chance – most snakes will avoid a human, even the ones that put up the biggest show.

4. A dog’s sense of smell is approximately a thousand times better than our own. A snake’s is more like ten thousand times more accurate – and it smells in stereo. That’s why the tongue is forked. It tastes the air, drawing it past a veromonasal organ just inside the mouth, which allows it to tell when the trail goes cold on the left, or on the right. They can follow scent trail significantly better than a bloodhound.

5. Snakes are not social creatures. They can be found in pairs in early spring (specimen A being in hot pursuit of the pheromone trail left by specimen B) but they separate afterwards, and “mother” is also a verb. And snakes don’t do it. Mother snake lays ‘em and leaves ‘em for the most part. No family groups, no family home (dens are for wintering and they aren't separated by species, much less families) and the babies that survive all go their separate ways.

6. If snakes ARE found in numbers, it means the three things they are motivated by are present. In order of importance, they are:
a. Cover
b. Water
c. Food

7. The reason for the order? Snakes can go a LONG time between meals, but they can’t go nearly as long without water – and they’re a sitting duck at any moment without cover. Just about everything too big to eat is big enough to be eaten by, and most of it will try given the chance.

8. Snakes are not slimy at all, amphibians and fish have a slime layer but the myth about snakes comes from the shiny nature of the skin, especially when wet. Many snakes are even iridescent, most notably the aptly-named Rainbow Boa.

9. While many humans suffer from claustrophobia, the fear of tight, closed-in spaces, snakes have claustrophelia – the attraction to them. They instinctively know that the tighter the space, the more difficult it would be for a predator to follow them, and they have only one direction in which to stage a defense.

10. In many ways, snakes move with more grace and precision than a cat. Every belly scale is attached to its own pair of ribs, which can be flexed independently to use them like feet, enabling movement forward, backward and literally in and out of knots. Most constrictors are therefore amazing climbers, even to the point of climbing brick walls by clinging to the edges of the bricks. All can swim, even desert species.

More to come…

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