Yesterday was World Snake Day! This obscure holiday is celebrated by wildlife enthusiasts around the world. Sometimes, tributes to snakes even make the national news. The day is used to promote awareness of the fascinating, but often misunderstood creatures.
* A snake uses its tongue to help it smell. It flicks its forked tongue to pick up chemical molecules from the air, ground, or water. The tongue then carries these molecules back to two small openings in the roof of its mouth, where they are analysed.
* There are around 3,000 different species of snake.
* Snakes can’t chomp down on their food, and have to swallow it whole. They have flexible jaws which allow them to eat prey bigger than their head!
* Snakes are found on every continent of the world except Antarctica.
* Snakes used in snake charming performances respond to movement, not sound.
* Some snakes inject venom into their prey through their pointy fangs, which can paralyse or kill the prey. However, scientists discovered that the same venom that can hurt or even kill humans, can also be used to make medicine.
* Snakes shed their skin a few times per year by rubbing on a tree, and peeling it off like a sock. The old skin which was getting too tight is left behind, while the new, fresh skin is revealed. The shedding process can last a few days.
* Pythons kill their prey by tightly wrapping around it and suffocating it in a process called constriction.
* Some sea snakes can breathe partially through their skin, allowing for longer dives underwater.
* Anacondas are large, non-venomous snakes found in South America that can reach more than 5 meters, or 16 feet, in length!
* Snakes don’t have external ears, like we do. Instead, bones in their lower jaws pick up vibrations in the ground (or water) that trigger vibrations in the snakes’ brains, which it receives as messages!