Why do snakes move differently
Snakes are reptiles. You have dry, flaky skin. They live on land as well as in water and occur all over the world except the Arctic and Antarctic or in the far north. They hibernate where it is colder.
There are around 3,600 different types of snakes. For example, they can be classified according to whether they are poisonous or not. Snakes can also vary in size. In the past people also spoke of giant snakes. Today, however, we know that they are not related to each other, but simply particularly large.
Snakes are cold-blooded, which means that their body temperature fluctuates depending on the outside temperature. When it gets cold, they fall into a freeze and can no longer move. Most species of snakes therefore live in the warm tropics of Africa, Asia and America. There are only a few species of snakes in Central Europe. Slow worms also look like snakes, but they're not snakes.
Snakes are dangerous but also strong. That is why they have always been a symbol of different things throughout history. There was a snake goddess in ancient Egypt. In the Bible, a serpent seduced Adam and Eve, so they had to leave Paradise. In India, a serpent played an essential role in the creation of the earth. In China, a snake was the symbol of cunning, but also of cunning. The Aboriginal rainbow snake protects nature, especially the water.
What is the body of the snake like?
Unlike lizards and crocodiles, snakes have legs but slide on their stomachs. Your skeleton has only a few different bones: the skull with the upper jaw, the lower jaw, 200 to over 400 vertebrae and the ribs. There are only small remnants of the pelvis, there are no shoulders at all.
Snakes breathe with one lungs and have blood circulation. However, this is a little easier than with the mammals. The skin does not grow with it. So snakes have to shed their skin from time to time. Sometimes you also say: "They slip out of your skin". Dry snake skins can be found every now and then.
All teeth are pointed back so that the snake can devour its prey in one piece. It doesn't have teeth like our molars to grind food. Venomous snakes have two teeth with a channel through which they can inject poison into their victim. The fangs of most snakes sit at the very front of the jaw, but sometimes also in the middle.
Snakes can smell good with their noses and taste good with their tongues so that they can find their prey. But you can't see very well. They can hear even worse. On the other hand, they can feel very well when the ground trembles. Then they usually flee to a hiding place. If you suddenly stand in front of a snake in nature, you shouldn't yell at it, but rather stamp your feet on the ground so that the snake flees.
How do snakes hunt and eat?
All snakes are predators and feed on other animals or their eggs. Most snakes lie in wait for a prey to come near them. Then they push forward with lightning speed and bite their victim. Venomous snakes let go of their victim and haunt them as they tire and eventually die. Strangler snakes, on the other hand, wrap around the body of the prey and then squeeze so tightly that it can no longer breathe and pass out. Other snakes devour their prey alive.
Small snakes mainly hunt insects. Medium-sized snakes hunt rodents such as mice or rabbits, as well as frogs, birds and smaller snakes. But they also eat eggs. Big snakes even hunt wild boars and animals of similar size, otherwise their young.
All snakes devour their prey in one piece. They can dislocate their lower jaw and swallow animals that are larger than they are. After that, they often don't have to eat anything for weeks.
How do snakes reproduce?
In the tropical pairs, snakes meet at some point in the year. In the cold areas, they do it after the hibernation, i.e. in spring. Only then do the males look for a female, because otherwise they live as loners. Viper males like to fight for a female, the other males tend to avoid each other.
The males have something like a small penis called a "hemipenis". In doing so, it brings its sperm cells into the female's body. Between two and 60 eggs then develop in the female's belly, this depends very much on the individual snake species.
Most snakes lay their eggs in a sheltered place. Very few species of snakes warm or defend their eggs. Mostly they are left to their own devices. The young animals are not looked after by their parents even after they hatch.
The adder, for example, is an exception. She lives in cold areas and keeps her eggs in her stomach. There they hatch and are born as finished snakes.
Which snakes live with us?
The poisonous adder lives in parts of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The aspic viper is also poisonous. However, they only exist in the Black Forest, in western Switzerland and in a few places in western Austria.
Non-toxic snakes are far more common. We have the smooth snake, the Aesculapian snake, the dice snake and the best known, the grass snake. In very few places in Switzerland you can still come across the viper snake.
Which are the biggest snakes?
First of all, it is very difficult to find the largest snake. You could measure the length or weigh the weight. Often you put the two together, which is particularly difficult.
It also depends on whether you are comparing particularly long or heavy individual snakes that you have ever found. That would be something like the "record holder" of each individual species. But you can also compare the mean value. To do this, you measure a certain number of randomly found snakes and pick out the middle one.
Then you have to consider whether the snake should still be alive today or whether it is already extinct and you only measure fossilization. The results are very different. With the next section everyone can make the comparison themselves.
How are the snakes related to each other?
The boas and python families are related, as are the adder and viper families.
For example, the “Great Anaconda” from South America belongs to the boas family. She is a strangler. It becomes on average about 4 meters long and 30 kilograms in weight. However, some of them should be up to 9 meters long and weigh over 200 kilograms. One fossil, the Titanoboa, was 13 meters long. The whole line is estimated to be a little over 1,000 kilograms.
The pythons live in the tropics of Africa and Asia. They are also strangler snakes. The reticulated python from Asia is one of the largest among them. Females can be up to 6 meters long and weigh around 75 kilograms. The males stay shorter and lighter. As an exception, a reticulated python should be able to be 10 meters long.
Adders are non-toxic and devour their prey alive. There are 1,700 species of them, some of them here too. The grass snake is best known. Well known from this family are the rattlesnakes in North and South America.
The vipers are close to the adders. They are poisonous. An old word for "viper" is "otter". That is why we also have the adder. But you shouldn't confuse them, for example with the otter. It is a marten and therefore a mammal.
Because the dandruff does not grow with it, snakes have to shed their skin from time to time. Here you can see a mamba next to its stripped skin.
This African egg snake has just swallowed a bird's egg.
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