Snakes are fascinating part of nature. Their color, movement and secretive habits make them seem more mysterious than other animals. For people who are especially interested in wildlife, snakes are a wonderful introduction to the world of nature, for one thing they are everywhere, you do not have to go into a special park or sanctuary to see a snake.
A literary word for snake is serpent – a word which comes from old French and from Serp – which means “to creep”.
Of the over 2000 species of snakes in the world, about 270 are found in India. These range from the worm snakes having a length of about 10 cms to those more than 6 mts long. They live in almost all habitats from the warm seas to semi-deserts, swamps, lakes and even in the Himalayan glaciers up to an elevation of about 5000 mts.
Out of the 270 species of snakes in India, 60 are venomous. In size, color and habits they can be very different from each other.
Snakes are elongated, limbless, flexible reptiles. Their body shape depends on the habitat in which they live. 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.
Size - Brahminy blind snakes are the smallest snake at two inches in length. The anaconda can reach lengths of 38 feet. The King Cobra, found in India is the largest venomous snake in the world. In a single bite it can inject enough venom to kill an elephant - up to 6 - 7 ml.
Habitat - Snakes are found in many habitats including in the water, forests, deserts and prairies. Snakes like to live in damp, dark, cool places where food is abundant.
Habit - 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 . Snakes hunt mostly at night.
Behavior - Often observed flicking it’s 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 per year.
Offspring - 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.
Threats - Roads, habitat destruction.
Protection - Endangered Species Act