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Some species of snake are ovoviviparous and retain the eggs within their bodies until they are almost ready to hatch. Sexual selection in snakes is demonstrated by the 3, species that each use different tactics in acquiring mates.
It is common for neck biting to occur while the snakes are entwined. Parthenogenesis is a natural form of reproduction in which growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization.
Agkistrodon contortrix copperhead and Agkistrodon piscivorus cotton mouth can reproduce by facultative parthenogenesis. That is, they are capable of switching from a sexual mode of reproduction to an asexual mode.
This process leads to genome wide homozygosity , expression of deleterious recessive alleles and often to developmental abnormalities. Both captive-born and wild-born A.
Reproduction in squamate reptiles is almost exclusively sexual. Males ordinarily have a ZZ pair of sex determining chromosomes, and females a ZW pair.
However, the Colombian Rainbow boa Epicrates maurus can also reproduce by facultative parthenogenesis resulting in production of WW female progeny.
In regions where winters are colder than snakes can tolerate while remaining active, local species will brumate. Unlike hibernation, in which mammals are actually asleep, brumating reptiles are awake but inactive.
Individual snakes may brumate in burrows, under rock piles, or inside fallen trees, or snakes may aggregate in large numbers at hibernacula.
All snakes are strictly carnivorous , eating small animals including lizards, frogs, other snakes, small mammals, birds, eggs , fish, snails, worms or insects.
The body size of a snake has a major influence on its eating habits. Smaller snakes eat smaller prey. Juvenile pythons might start out feeding on lizards or mice and graduate to small deer or antelope as an adult, for example.
The snake's jaw is a complex structure. Contrary to the popular belief that snakes can dislocate their jaws, snakes have a very flexible lower jaw , the two halves of which are not rigidly attached, and numerous other joints in their skull see snake skull , allowing them to open their mouths wide enough to swallow their prey whole, even if it is larger in diameter than the snake itself.
While the majority of snakes eat a variety of prey animals, there is some specialization by some species. King cobras and the Australian bandy-bandy consume other snakes.
Snakes of the family Pareidae have more teeth on the right side of their mouths than on the left, as the shells of their prey usually spiral clockwise.
Some snakes have a venomous bite, which they use to kill their prey before eating it. After eating, snakes become dormant while the process of digestion takes place.
In species that feed only sporadically, the entire intestine enters a reduced state between meals to conserve energy. Being ectothermic "cold-blooded" , the surrounding temperature plays a large role in snake digestion.
So much metabolic energy is involved in a snake's digestion that in the South American rattlesnake Crotalus durissus , surface body temperature increases by as much as 1.
When undisturbed, the digestive process is highly efficient, with the snake's digestive enzymes dissolving and absorbing everything but the prey's hair or feathers and claws , which are excreted along with waste.
The lack of limbs does not impede the movement of snakes. They have developed several different modes of locomotion to deal with particular environments.
Unlike the gaits of limbed animals, which form a continuum, each mode of snake locomotion is discrete and distinct from the others; transitions between modes are abrupt.
Lateral undulation is the sole mode of aquatic locomotion, and the most common mode of terrestrial locomotion. Terrestrial lateral undulation is the most common mode of terrestrial locomotion for most snake species.
When swimming, the waves become larger as they move down the snake's body, and the wave travels backwards faster than the snake moves forwards.
In spite of overall similarities, studies show that the pattern of muscle activation is different in aquatic versus terrestrial lateral undulation, which justifies calling them separate modes.
Most often employed by colubroid snakes colubrids , elapids , and vipers when the snake must move in an environment that lacks irregularities to push against rendering lateral undulation impossible , such as a slick mud flat, or a sand dune, sidewinding is a modified form of lateral undulation in which all of the body segments oriented in one direction remain in contact with the ground, while the other segments are lifted up, resulting in a peculiar "rolling" motion.
When push-points are absent, but there is not enough space to use sidewinding because of lateral constraints, such as in tunnels, snakes rely on concertina locomotion.
This mode of locomotion is slow and very demanding, up to seven times the cost of laterally undulating over the same distance.
The movement of snakes in arboreal habitats has only recently been studied. Gliding snakes Chrysopelea of Southeast Asia launch themselves from branch tips, spreading their ribs and laterally undulating as they glide between trees.
The slowest mode of snake locomotion is rectilinear locomotion, which is also the only one where the snake does not need to bend its body laterally, though it may do so when turning.
Waves of movement and stasis pass posteriorly, resulting in a series of ripples in the skin. Snakes do not ordinarily prey on humans.
Unless startled or injured, most snakes prefer to avoid contact and will not attack humans. With the exception of large constrictors, nonvenomous snakes are not a threat to humans.
The bite of a nonvenomous snake is usually harmless; their teeth are not adapted for tearing or inflicting a deep puncture wound, but rather grabbing and holding.
Although the possibility of infection and tissue damage is present in the bite of a nonvenomous snake, venomous snakes present far greater hazard to humans.
Documented deaths resulting from snake bites are uncommon. Nonfatal bites from venomous snakes may result in the need for amputation of a limb or part thereof.
Of the roughly species of venomous snakes worldwide, only are able to kill a human with one bite. Australia averages only one fatal snake bite per year.
In India , , snakebites are recorded in a single year, with as many as 50, recorded initial deaths. The treatment for a snakebite is as variable as the bite itself.
The most common and effective method is through antivenom or antivenin , a serum made from the venom of the snake. Some antivenom is species-specific monovalent while some is made for use with multiple species in mind polyvalent.
In the United States for example, all species of venomous snakes are pit vipers , with the exception of the coral snake.
To produce antivenom, a mixture of the venoms of the different species of rattlesnakes , copperheads, and cottonmouths is injected into the body of a horse in ever-increasing dosages until the horse is immunized.
Blood is then extracted from the immunized horse. The serum is separated and further purified and freeze-dried.
It is reconstituted with sterile water and becomes antivenom. For this reason, people who are allergic to horses are more likely to suffer an allergic reaction to antivenom.
In some parts of the world, especially in India, snake charming is a roadside show performed by a charmer.
In such a show, the snake charmer carries a basket that contains a snake that he seemingly charms by playing tunes from his flutelike musical instrument, to which the snake responds.
The Wildlife Protection Act of in India technically proscribes snake charming on grounds of reducing animal cruelty.
Other snake charmers also have a snake and mongoose show, where both the animals have a mock fight; however, this is not very common, as the snakes, as well as the mongooses, may be seriously injured or killed.
Snake charming as a profession is dying out in India because of competition from modern forms of entertainment and environment laws proscribing the practice.
Many Indians have never seen snake charming and it is becoming a folktale of the past. The Irulas tribe of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in India have been hunter-gatherers in the hot, dry plains forests, and have practiced the art of snake catching for generations.
They have a vast knowledge of snakes in the field. They generally catch the snakes with the help of a simple stick.
Earlier, the Irulas caught thousands of snakes for the snake-skin industry. After the complete ban of the snake-skin industry in India and protection of all snakes under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act , they formed the Irula Snake Catcher's Cooperative and switched to catching snakes for removal of venom, releasing them in the wild after four extractions.
The venom so collected is used for producing life-saving antivenom, biomedical research and for other medicinal products. Despite the existence of snake charmers, there have also been professional snake catchers or wranglers.
Modern-day snake trapping involves a herpetologist using a long stick with a V- shaped end. While not commonly thought of as food in most cultures, in others the consumption of snakes is acceptable, or even considered a delicacy.
Snake soup of Cantonese cuisine is consumed by locals in autumn, to warm up their body. Western cultures document the consumption of snakes under extreme circumstances of hunger.
In Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, drinking the blood of snakes—particularly the cobra —is believed to increase sexual virility.
In some Asian countries, the use of snakes in alcohol is also accepted. In such cases, the body of a snake or several snakes is left to steep in a jar or container of liquor.
It is claimed that this makes the liquor stronger as well as more expensive. The drink was first recorded to have been consumed in China during the Western Zhou dynasty and considered an important curative and believed to reinvigorate a person according to traditional Chinese medicine.
In the Western world, some snakes especially docile species such as the ball python and corn snake are kept as pets.
To meet this demand a captive breeding industry has developed. Snakes bred in captivity tend to make better pets and are considered preferable to wild caught specimens.
They require minimal space, as most common species do not exceed 5 feet 1. Pet snakes can be fed relatively infrequently, usually once every 5 to 14 days.
Certain snakes have a lifespan of more than 40 years if given proper care. In Egyptian history , the snake occupies a primary role with the Nile cobra adorning the crown of the pharaoh in ancient times.
It was worshipped as one of the gods and was also used for sinister purposes: murder of an adversary and ritual suicide Cleopatra.
In the Bible , King Nahash of Ammon , whose name means "Snake", is depicted very negatively, as a particularly cruel and despicable enemy of the ancient Hebrews.
The ancient Greeks used the Gorgoneion , a depiction of a hideous face with serpents for hair, as an apotropaic symbol to ward off evil.
The legendary account of the foundation of Thebes mentioned a monster snake guarding the spring from which the new settlement was to draw its water.
In fighting and killing the snake, the companions of the founder Cadmus all perished — leading to the term " Cadmean victory " i. Three medical symbols involving snakes that are still used today are Bowl of Hygieia , symbolizing pharmacy, and the Caduceus and Rod of Asclepius , which are symbols denoting medicine in general.
One of the etymologies proposed for the common female first name Linda is that it might derive from Old German Lindi or Linda , meaning a serpent.
India is often called the land of snakes and is steeped in tradition regarding snakes. There is a Hindu festival called Nag Panchami each year on which day snakes are venerated and prayed to.
In India there is another mythology about snakes. Commonly known in Hindi as " Ichchhadhari " snakes. Such snakes can take the form of any living creature, but prefer human form.
These mythical snakes possess a valuable gem called "Mani", which is more brilliant than diamond.
There are many stories in India about greedy people trying to possess this gem and ending up getting killed.
The snake is one of the 12 celestial animals of Chinese zodiac , in the Chinese calendar. Many ancient Peruvian cultures worshipped nature.
Snakes are a part of Hindu worship. Most images of Lord Shiva depict snake around his neck. Puranas have various stories associated with snakes.
In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the Universe on his hoods and to constantly sing the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths.
He is sometimes referred to as "Ananta-Shesha", which means "Endless Shesha". Snakes have also been widely revered, such as in ancient Greece , where the serpent was seen as a healer.
Asclepius carried a serpent wound around his wand, a symbol seen today on many ambulances. In religious terms, the snake and jaguar are arguably the most important animals in ancient Mesoamerica.
In Judaism , the snake of brass is also a symbol of healing, of one's life being saved from imminent death. In some parts of Christianity, Christ 's redemptive work is compared to saving one's life through beholding the Nehushtan serpent of brass.
However, more commonly in Christianity, the serpent has been seen as a representative of evil and sly plotting, which can be seen in the description in Genesis chapter 3 of a snake in the Garden of Eden tempting Eve.
In Christianity and Judaism, the snake makes its infamous appearance in the first book of the Bible when a serpent appears before the first couple Adam and Eve and tempts them with the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.
The serpent makes its final appearance symbolizing Satan in the Book of Revelation : "And he laid hold on the dragon the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
In Neo-Paganism and Wicca , the snake is seen as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. Several compounds from snake venoms are being researched as potential treatments or preventatives for pain, cancers, arthritis, stroke, heart disease, hemophilia, and hypertension, and to control bleeding e.
Nature Communications. Bibcode : NatCo From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Limbless, scaly, elongate reptile.
This article is about the animal. For other uses, see Snake disambiguation. Eupodophis descouensi hind leg.
See also: List of snake genera. Main article: Legless lizard. Main article: Snake scales. See also: Sexual selection in scaled reptiles. Main articles: Undulatory locomotion and Hydrophiinae.
Main article: Sidewinding. Main article: Concertina movement. Main article: Rectilinear locomotion. Main article: Snakebite. Main article: Snake charming.
Main article: Serpent symbolism. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. April Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Snake worship.
BMC Evolutionary Biology. Bibcode : PLoSO.. Repeated evolution of snakelike body form in squamate reptiles". Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution.
Snakes: A Natural History. New York: Sterling Publishing Co. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 4 April Accessed 4 April Archived PDF from the original on August 13, Retrieved Plugin for Chrome as an easy way to enable Flash content in the browser.
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