|Snakes' venom is designed to be used only when hunting, to help subdue prey. Each snake has limited quantities of the poisonous substance, and does not eagerly waste it on non-food animals. When threatened, snakes will usually either attempt to escape, or bite in defense without injecting much venom. The venom is produced by special glands in the snake’s head, and snake venom is chemically much more complex than the compounds produced by other types of poisonous animals. Snakes can inject the venom through their tubular fangs when biting a victim. Since venom is an adaptation to make feeding easier, it is not produced in large quantities all year long: most temperate-zone snakes do not feed heavily during the fall and winter, and venom production is lower during these seasons.|
A lizard well camouflaged. Photo by Maya Walters.
|Snakes do have their own natural predators, including hawks, owls, and various mammals. Since the often poisonous bite of a snake is intended for prey and not predators, they have evolved a variety of other defenses, the most common which is camouflage or mimicry. Lizards, too, have need of defensive adaptations. Many lizards, when attacked, have the ability to shed their tails. After separating from the lizard, the tail continues to twitch, distracting the predator while the now tailless lizard makes its escape!|
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