July 16th is World Snake Day (no, it’s real, I promise I didn’t make it up!), a day to take a closer look at all serpents and appreciate all they do for us. In honor of these scaly beauties, I’ve compiled a few amazing and unusual facts about snakes around the world. Did you know…
- Snakes can travel by a variety of means including slithering, swimming, climbing and even gliding! The flying snake can soar further than any other gliding animal!
- A snake’s scales are made up of keratin, the same compound as your own hair and fingernails.
- While most reptiles lay eggs, up to 30% of all snakes are ovoviviparous, which means they raise eggs internally and give birth to live young!
- There are over 3,000 species of snakes around the world, but only about 30 have a bite that can kill a human.
- The spitting cobra is able to shoot venom long distances to defend itself. The insides of its fangs have grooves similar to the barrel of a rifle, allowing for greater distance and accuracy!
- Snakes have a variety of warnings when threatened including hissing, puffing up, rattling tails, hooding, and even farting! The Sonoran Coral snake uses ‘cloacal popping’ to deter would-be predators!
- Snakes do actually have bones, and may have over 300 ribs!
- Every Brahminy Blind Snake ever collected has been a female. The reproduce through parthenogenesis, giving birth to genetically identical young.
- The Japanese Tiger Keelback is both poisonous AND venomous. It has a naturally venomous bite, and hunts poisonous amphibians. It ‘steals’ the poison from the amphibians it eats and secretes it from glands on the back of its neck!
- Because they prey largely on small rodents that carry all kinds of bacteria, recent studies have revealed that snakes have actually helped slow the spread of Lyme Disease and other similar maladies!
Snakes display an incredible range of behaviors and characteristics, many of which are very beneficial to humans (the pros far outweigh the cons!). World Snake Day is a day to appreciate all these benefits, and to spread awareness to the community. To learn more about the snakes in your area, stop on by the Virginia Living Museum, and get up close and personal with some of our backyard buddies!