Snakes

Snakes eat meat.
They catch their food in different ways.
Some snakes kill prey with a poison bite.
Some snakes kill prey by squeezing it.

Snakes belong to the group of animals called reptiles. This group also includes crocodiles, lizards, and turtles. Like all reptiles, snakes warm their body temperature by lying in the sun and lower it by moving into the shade. There are about 2,400 species, or kinds, of snakes in the world.

Habitat and Distribution (where they are found)
Snakes live almost everywhere: in deserts, forests, oceans, streams and lakes. Some are live on the ground, some live in trees, and others spend most of their lives in water.
Sea snake

Snakes cannot survive in places where the ground stays frozen all year around, so they are not found in the polar regions or on high mountain tops. Several islands, including Ireland and New Zealand, do not have snakes.

Body and Behaviours
Snakes have long, flexible bodies. They have short tails. Having no arms or legs means they can slide into holes, cracks and burrows in search of prey. The body is covered with dry scales. The scales are patterned, which helps us identify the snake type.

Snake's eyes are covered by clear scales rather than movable eyelids; therefore, their eyes are always open and they appear to stare.

Snakes smell and taste with their tongues. The narrow, forked tongue is flicked out, and takes in small particles in the air, water or ground. The tongue flicks back into the snake's mouth, and a special part of the mouth analyses the particles and gives the snake information about prey or predators nearby.
They do not have external ears and are probably deaf to most sounds.They "hear" by sensing ground vibrations with their belly scales and lower jaw.

Their vision is used to detect movement. They have difficulty seeing still objects. Some snakes have better vision at night, and others see better in daylight.

Snake's skin does not grow, so they must shed their skin regularly, having grown new skin underneath.

Diet
All snakes are carnivorous, which means meat-eating. Snakes must find prey, and they eat whatever they can catch. Snakes cannot chew, so they swallow their prey whole. They are able to disconnect their jaws so that they can open their mouths very wide to swallow large prey.

Snakes have different ways of catching prey. Some snakes kill their prey with poison, called venom. These are venomous snakes. Some snakes kill their prey by suffocating it. These are constrictors. Some snakes swallow their prey alive and whole.

Venomous snakes have a couple of long teeth called fangs. The fangs are hollow and fold back when not in use. They are used to inject poison when the snake bites its prey.

King cobra, the longest venomous snake

Constrictors coil around prey and crush it to death.

Life Cycle
Most snakes hatch from eggs that have a leathery shell. Snake eggs are rather oblong in shape. The female lays them in a moist, warm place: the warmth of the sun and the earth control the incubation. It may take up to 60 days for the eggs to hatch. Some snakes give birth to live young, the eggs having developed inside the mother's body.

Go here to read about the life cycle of snakes http://www.thematzats.com/snakes/life1.htm

 

Did you know?
The largest and heaviest snake is the anaconda, found in Brazil.

Anacondas can grow to 10 metres and weigh 250 kilograms.

They are hunted, and are critically endangered, which means they may die out very soon.

There are about 140 species, or kinds, of land snake and about 32 species of sea snake in Australia.

About 100 Australian snakes are venomous, 12 of which are dangerously venomous and can be fatal.


For information about First Aid for snakebite, go here: http://www.lfsru.org/firstaid.htm

If you use any of this information in your own work acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Snakes (2000). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

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updated September 2007