Thursday, May 28, 2009


Here are little known interesting facts about the snakes...

King Cobras make nests. Generally snakes show little or no parental care. But a pair of King Cobra will cooperate to find a suitable nesting spot. Nests are built usually in the month of April. Despite having no limbs, the female remarkably constructs her nest of dead leaves by scooping them up with her large body. Females then lay approximately 20-50 eggs, two months after mating, with an incubation period ranging from 60 to 80 days. The female will then lie on the nest until just before the eggs hatch, at which point instinct will cause the mother to leave the young so as to prevent her from eating them. The male king cobra is similarly unique in that he stays to guard the nesting area, until the young hatch, patrolling a large area around the nest for threats. Such complex nesting and rearing behavior is unique among snakes. No other snake shows any parental care.

King cobras eat other snakes. King Cobras eat almost all other snakes with the rat snake being it’s favourite. The King Cobra is peculiar in that it feeds almost exclusively on other snakes, which is reflected in its genus name of Ophiophagus (Snake-eater). The King Cobra is known to attack larger snakes, including Pythons. The King Cobra's diet is mainly composed of other Snakes. When food is scarce though, King Cobras will also feed on other small vertebrates, such as Lizards. After a large meal the snake may live for many months without another meal due to its very slow metabolic rate.

Snakes can survive without eating food for several days. Snakes have a slow metabolic rate and thus can survive without eating for many days at a stretch, after a sumptuous meal. Snakes like King cobras can survive many months without food.

Snakes are cold blooded. Snakes are cold blooded like all reptiles, with the exception of the Leatherback Sea Turtle, a reptile that elevates its body temperature well above that of its surroundings. Though cellular metabolism produces some heat, reptiles do not generate enough heat to maintain a constant body temperature and are therefore referred to as "cold-blooded". Instead they rely on heat from the environment to regulate their internal temperature, e.g. by moving between sun and shade, or by preferential circulation - moving warmed blood into the body core, while pushing cool blood to the periphery. While this lack of adequate internal heating imposes costs relative to temperature regulation through behavior, it also provides a large benefit by allowing reptiles to survive on much less food as compared to similarly sized mammals and birds, who burn much of their food for warmth.

Pit vipers use a thermal sensitive nasal pit to detect pray. Pit Vipers are named after their specialized thermo receptors; heat-sensitive organs, located on either side of the head that look like small pits. These pits contain membranes sensitive to infrared radiation and allow the snakes to locate their prey based on temperature differences with their environment. To a pit viper, rodents and birds that are only fractionally warmer than the background stand out even in complete darkness. Like a primitive pair of eyes, these pits even give them depth perception, allowing them to strike accurately under such conditions.

Snake’s tongue is used to sense the surroundings. Snakes smell by using its forked tongue to collect airborne particles then passing them to the Jacobson's Organ, a special organ in the mouth for examination. The fork in the tongue gives the snake a sort of directional sense of smell.

Young snakes break out of their egg with the help of special “teeth”. A snake does not look after its eggs or take care of the young ones but leaves the eggs to be hatched on their own. The hatchlings or the young snakes therefore have special teeth to break open the eggs and come out.

Most snakes can climb trees. Rat Snakes and Pythons are excellent examples.

Snakes shed skin on a regular basis and it is a part of its growth. The process is called moulting. This is usually achieved by the snake rubbing its head against a hard object, such as a rock or piece of wood, causing the already stretched skin to split. At this point, the snake continues to rub its skin on objects, causing the end nearest the head to peel back on it, until the Snake is able to crawl out of its skin, effectively turning the moulted skin inside-out. This is similar to how one might remove a sock from your foot by grabbing the open end and pulling it over itself. The Snake's skin is often left in one piece after the moulting process. It is a usual process, essential for a snake’s growth.

All snakes are carnivorous. Snakes do not chew their food and have a very flexible lower jaw, the two halves of which are not rigidly attached, and numerous other joints in their 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. It is a common misconception that snakes actually dislocate their lower jaw to consume large prey. Snakes do not normally prey on people, unless startled or injured, preferring instead to avoid contact. In fact, the majority of snakes are either non-venomous or possess venom that is not harmful to humans.

Snake venom is a complex mixture of proteins and is produced by venom glands. Snake venom is highly modified saliva that is produced by special glands. Snake venom is a combination of many different proteins and enzymes. Many of these proteins are harmless to humans, but some are toxins. Snake venoms are generally harmless when ingested, and are therefore not technically poisons.

Snake venom is used to make anti venom & many other life saving drugs. An anti-venom serum is actually a small quantity of the venom itself which when injected into an animal or human affects only slightly triggering an allergic reaction to it. The allergic reaction will allow anti bodies to be formed and thus immunity to the venom is developed.

There is no visible difference between a male and female snake. Snakes of either sex would look identical, the only difference being that of a hemipenis (plural-hemipenes) in a male and a cloaca in a female which is visible only on a deeper study.

Vipers have fold-able front fangs. When not in use, the fangs are folded backward against the roof of the mouth. Vipers have a very affective system of injecting venom into its prey’s body. The hinged fangs are more intricate system that allows the snake to instantaneously strike, inject and withdraw from a struggling prey. The fangs are enclosed in a membranous sheath and can be folded backwards and upwards against the roof of the mouth. During a strike the fangs can swing forward and the mouth can open to 180 degrees.

Flying snakes only glide in the air, they can’t fly. They virtually swim through the air and can glide a distance of 100m. It can only glide by extending its ribs and pulling in the underside.


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