Snakes play an important part in the ecosystem by feeding on and reducing the populations of nuisance pests. While some species are venomous, most are non-venomous and should not be feared. Despite generally not being super dangerous, they are a pest species that most people do want living in or near their home.
A snake’s appearance will vary greatly depending on species. One thing that they all have in common is that they lack fully developed legs and eyelids. They move across the ground in a back and forth slithering motion. They range in size from several inches to several feet in length. Colors can include green, red, orange, yellow, dark black or brown; and most have unique stripes or patterns.
Snakes mate in the spring and depending on the species will either lay eggs in a nest or deliver live young. A snake’s prey is consumed whole. The lower jaw is hinged and can open to surprising sizes, allowing the snake to consume prey larger than their mouth would otherwise allow.
There are two main families that snake species fall into, pit vipers and Colubridae.
Pit vipers include copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes; these snakes have heat sensors located between their nostril and eye on each side of their head. These special sensors help the snake to seek out their warm-blooded prey- even in the dark. Their mouth opens when they sense heat and they inject venom into their prey with their hollow fangs.
Colubridae contains non-venomous snakes like garter, corn and water snakes. These snakes use constriction to subdue and kill their prey.
If you are bitten by a snake and are unsure if it was venomous or not then you should seek immediate medical attention. Even a non-venomous bite can lead to a secondary infection if the wound is not cleaned and taken care of properly.
Snakes are commonly found living in wooded areas, dense vegetation, tall grasses and along the banks of rivers, ponds, and lakes. You can also come across them living in fields, on farmlands, and around garden areas where their prey is also found.
Snakes feed on a variety of animals including frogs, salamanders, insects, worms, small rodents, and birds. Larger snakes will feed on larger prey.
Snakes are cold-blooded animals which means that they cannot control their body temperature on their own. The can be seen sunning themselves on top of sidewalks, pavement, rocks, and stones on warm spring and summer days. During the colder months of the year, snakes hibernate in dens either by themselves or with other snakes.