Reptile Species (Snakes) – Part I


This article is for the awareness of the reptile species specially snakes. I am going a bit off track by posting this non technical article but it would help in increasing our general knowledge. The first question which arises in our mind is what is reptile? The answer of that question is as

What is a reptile?

• The species having scales instead of fur or feathers, they don’t have hair.

• Ectothermic (cold-blooded). Body temperature depends on the temperature  of the animal’s surroundings (air or water).

• Their body temperature is regulated through their behavior of living.

• Do not hibernate, but will go into a state of extremely slow metabolism called torpor. This state of suspended animation occurs when the temperature of the animal’s surroundings drops drastically. This causes a dramatic drop in body temperature and the reptile’s metabolism slows down resulting in a slowing of all body activities. Unlike torpor, true states of hibernation are triggered by hormonal signals from the endocrine system.

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                        Snakes belong to the order of animals called reptiles. The reptiles also include crocodiles, lizards, and turtles. Snakes maintain a fairly steady body temperature by their behavior. There are about 2,400 species of snakes in the world.  They raise their temperature by lying in the sun or lower it by crawling into the shade. They live almost everywhere i.e. in deserts, forests, oceans, and lakes, ponds. There are a few areas where snakes do not live. Snakes cannot survive in places where the ground stays frozen the year around, some of the snakes are ground dwellers, others live in trees, and some snakes spend most of their lives in water. This is the reason we don’t find snakes in the polar region or at high mountain elevations. Some of the islands, including Ireland and New Zealand, have no snake’s existence.

              A literary word for snake is serpent (a Middle English word which comes from Old French, and ultimately from serp is “to creep”. The serpent is also a symbol of the healing arts.  A snake is an elongate reptile of the suborder Serpents… All snakes are carnivorous and can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids, limbs, ears. The 2,700+ species of snakes spread across every continent except Antarctica ranging in size from 10 cm long thread snake to pythons and anacondas at 9 m (30 ft) long. For accommodating snakes’ narrow bodies, paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side.

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          While venomous snakes comprise a minority of the species, some of the snakes pose potent venom capable of causing painful injury or death to humans within minutes or even seconds. However, venom in snakes is primarily for killing and subduing prey rather than for self-defense. They may have evolved from a lizard which adapted to burrowing during the Cretaceous period (c 150 Ma), though some scientists have postulated an aquatic origin. But the diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period (c 66 to 56 Ma). We will see the classification of snakes in the next article….

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