Snakes Are Beautiful... At Least When They're in Pictures!
A friend of mine keeps snakes for pets. I have known him more than 25 years and during that time he has always had at least a couple of snakes in his home and I believe a spider or two. Yes, I do mean on purpose. He is a relatively normal fellow (well, at least by my standards) so I kind of got used to the idea that there are some people out there that view these slinky reptiles a bit differently than I do.
But one thing that cannot be denied, at least once you get past your initial repulsion, is that snakes are truly beautiful creatures. Maybe not in the way that a furry squirrel or a delicate butterfly is beautiful, but they do have a unique elegance and primal charm that no other creature can match. This can be difficult to see when the lovely viper is hissing at you from a few feet away, so I have collected a few of the most fascinating here for you to enjoy.
Emerald Green Pit Viper
Let's begin with a relatively new discovery, the Emerald Green Pit Viper was first found in 2002 in the eastern mountains of the Himalayas in the nation of Burma. This intensely green venomous snake has bright markings with males having red eyes with red and white stripes while females have yellow eyes and stripes that are mostly white. They can grow to at least 4 1/2 feet long but as a fairly recent finding in the reptile kingdom, there may be much about this lovely creature that we are yet to learn, including their actual maximum size.
Blue Malaysian Coral Snake
The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake grows to about 5 feet and lives on a diet of other snakes, including others of its own kind. It might occasionally consume a lizard or a frog, maybe even an unlucky bird, but for the most part it is strictly a snake eater. This poisonous reptile is active mostly at night when it can be fairly aggressive while remaining rather timid until the sun goes down. It uses its colorful body to scare off predators by turning over and showing its red belly and uses its tail as a decoy for its head, allowing it to strike when its tail is attacked. The snake can be found in Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Brazilian Rainbow Boa
The Brazilian Rainbow Boa is one of nature's most beautiful snakes. The iridescent quality of its scales is caused by tiny ridges on the scales that refract light like small prisms. This adds to the boa's already attractive coloring and really makes this a standout reptile. Found mainly in the Amazon Basin, this snake feeds mostly on small rodents and birds but also may eat amphibians such as frogs and lizards. It is a mid-sized snake, averaging about 5 feet though occasionally reaching 7 feet or more.
Northern Scarlet Snake
The Northern Scarlet Snake is found in the southern and eastern United States, often burrowing in open forest areas or developed agricultural areas and spends most of its time hidden. This nonvenomous colubrid feeds mostly on reptile eggs including snake eggs but also sometimes eats rodents or lizards. It is a small snake with a maximum length of less than two feet with a record length of 32 inches.
Do all snakes lay eggs?
Most snakes are oviparous and do lay eggs. Many snakes abandon the eggs after they are laid. There are exceptions in that some snakes, such as the King Cobra, stay with the eggs and some snakes are ovoviviparous, meaning they carry the eggs internally and give birth when the eggs are nothing more than membranes. There is some question as to whether any snakes are viviparous, giving birth to live offspring without the offspring ever having and egg casing.
When it come to big snakes, people generally think of boas, pythons and anacondas. But the King Cobra, the world's longest venomous snake, is no shorty by a long shot. Averaging around 12 feet but topping out at over 18 feet, the King Cobra is still a fast and agile reptile. It is considered the most dangerous Asiatic snake, delivering a potent amount of venom in a single bite. Found throughout southeast Asia and parts of India, this snake subsists mainly on other snakes but will now and then consume lizards, small rodents, and even birds.
Topaz Tanami Woma Python
The Topaz Tanami Woma Python is a medium-sized python growing to about 3 1/2 feet that was purposefully bred while in captivity from the Tanami Woma Python to increase the richness of its colors. The Tanami Woma is found in the Tanami desert region of Australia's Northern Territory. In their natural habitat, womas are burrowing snakes, often living in multi-chambered burrows. They eat small mammals such as rabbits as well as lizards and other reptiles.
Leucistic Texas Rat Snake
The Leucistic Texas Rat Snake is a nonvenomous colubrid found primarily in Texas. I wonder if that has anything to do with why it was named what it was? The "leucistic" part means they have reduced pigmentation of all skin pigments which is different from albinism in which only melanin is reduced. Unlike albinos, animals characterized by leucism do not have altered eye color. Growing to lengths over 6 feet, the Leucistic Texas Rat Snake has a healthy appetite and consumes plenty of rodents and birds as well as frogs and lizards. They are quick to bite if handled, but their bite is mostly harmless.
Emerald Tree Boa
The Emerald Tree Boa is found in many parts of South America including along the Amazon River. They average around six feet in length but can grow up to nine feet. Their diet is mainly small mammals but they do occasionally consume birds, lizards and frogs. Their slow metabolism allow them to go several months between meals. Though completely unrelated species, Emerald Tree Boas appear very similar to the Green Tree Python who are closely related to the...
High Yellow Green Tree Python
The High Yellow Tree Python is a large snake that grows from four to seven feet long. It is nonvenomous and eats small mammals and sometimes reptiles. They hunt by hanging from branches and striking from an S shape, then constricting the prey. It is an oviparous snake and one of the few snakes that stays with its eggs to incubate them. It is found mainly on the island of Kofiau in West Papua, Indonesia, though the aforementioned Green Tree Python to which it is closely related can be found throughout most of Indonesia, New Guinea and parts of Queensland, Australia.
Pied-Bellied Shieldtail Snake
Pied-Bellied Shieldtails are nonvenomous, burrowing snakes that mostly live underground in India and Sri Lanka. It is believed they eat mainly earthworms but very little research has been done to support this. They are relatively small with a maximum length of around 2 1/2 feet but more often are much smaller, with full grown snakes sometimes no longer than eight inches.
Coast Garter Snake
The Coast Garter Snake can be found in the western coastal states of the United States from Oregon down through southern California. The snake is considered harmless to humans but does produce a mild neurotoxin that it distributes by chewing its prey. A bite from one of these colubrids can produce swelling and irritation but has no lasting effect. Coast Garter Snakes have one of the most diverse diets of any reptiles and will consume practically anything it can overpower from slugs, earthworms and leeches to birds, fish and rodents. They grow to approximately from 18 to 42 inches.
Red Milk Snake
Red Milk Snakes are nonvenomous but look very similar some species of the poisonous Coral Snake, fooling predators into mistaking the harmless snake for its deadlier doppelganger. Red Milk Snakes can be found from the southern parts of Canada down to parts of Ecuador and Venezuela. They can reach a maximum length of almost five feet but most are smaller, sometimes reaching only about 20 inches as an adult. Their diet is mostly made up of rodents but they are opportunistic eaters and will consume other snakes, fish, reptiles, birds and bird eggs, and more. They got their name from an urban myth that they would suck milk from a cow's udder that likely developed due to their abundance in barns where a bounty of rodents were available for feeding.
Eastern Corn Snake
Eastern Corn Snakes (or simply Corn Snakes or also known as Red Rat Snakes) are found in the southeastern and central United States. These beautiful reptiles reach lengths of 4 feet up to about 6 feet and are often found in areas where small rodents gather as this is their primary source of food. They are rather docile snakes that make excellent pets as their care is rather simple and they are generally reluctant to bite, making them a good choice even for young snake enthusiasts.
Easter Corn Snake
A close relative of the Eastern Corn Snake, the unbelievably colorful Easter Corn Snake is only seen once a year in the latter part of March through sometime in late April. The specific day it can be seen varies annually making it hard for many people to know exactly when the snake will come around each year. It survives generally on a diet of Easter eggs and can often be found in areas where Easter egg hunts are being held. But these snakes from time to time have also been known to consume Peeps that stray from the flock and even swallow rabbits whole, but only the marshmallow and solid milk chocolate kinds of bunnies. Unlike their relatives the Eastern Corn Snake, they do not make good pets as they tend to inexplicably vanish from their enclosures after three days.
General Snake Facts
- Snakes are all muscles and backbone with some species having up to 500 vertebrae. Humans have 33.
- Many harmless snakes share similar coloring with deadlier snakes as a method of defense against predators.
- You cannot win a staring contest with a snake. They have no eyelids and do not blink with their eye being protected instead by a transparent scale.
- Most snakes have hundreds of teeth but only use those teeth to hold prey while swallowing it.
- With the exception of Antarctica, snakes are found on every continent and on almost all islands.
- There are almost 3000 known species of snakes.
Boids A classification of snakes that includes boas, pythons and anacondas. All boids are non-venomous constrictors.
Colubrids A broad classification that includes about two-thirds of all snakes, most of which, but not all, are nonvenomous.Even those that can produce venom are considered harmless to humans.
Constrictor A snake that disables prey by wrapping around it and tightening its coils to incapacitate or kill the prey.
Elapids A classification that includes all fixed-fang snakes such as cobras and coral snakes. All elapids are venomous and this classification includes all the deadliest snakes in the world, attacking the central nervous system of its victims with a fast-acting neurotoxin that restricts breathing.
Herpetology The study of amphibians and reptiles, including snakes.
Leucism A condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in all skin pigments in animals and humans resulting in irregular patches of white on an animal or in rarer instances a complete coat of white.
Oviparous This refers to animals that lays eggs that hatch externally from the animals bodies. In addition to most snakes, birds and the platypus are oviparous.
Ovoviviparous This refers to animals who carry the eggs internally with the egg becoming only a thin membrane by the time a "live birth" occurs. Some snakes give birth this way but this is not truly a live birth.
Viperids A classification that includes vipers, adders and rattlesnakes. All viperids are poisonous, producing a hematoxic venom that attacks its victim's blood and tissue.
Viviparous This refers to animals that truly give a live birth with no internal egg structure present during development of the offspring. It has recently been learned that a few species of snake are viviparous including the boa constrictor and green anaconda.