The Online Library of Knowledge


You are here: Life > Reptiles > Snakes


Eastern coral snake Eastern coral snake Snakes are a group of reptiles that have long, narrow, scale-covered bodies and tails and no limbs. Some legless lizards resemble snakes, but snakes are distinguished from them by their lack of external ears or eyelids. Snakes have many more bones in their spines than other animals. They move by flexing their belly muscles, which are attached to their many ribs. As they move, most snakes curve their bodies into a series of S-shapes, giving them greater speed. Snakes moult throughout their lives, ridding themselves of old, worn skin and replacing it with a bright new layer of skin from time to time.

Green tree python hatchlings emerge from their eggs.Green tree python hatchlings emerge from their eggs.


Many snakes lay eggs, and a few kinds will guard them from predators until they hatch. There are some snakes, such as sea snakes, that give birth to live young. In all cases, young snakes are left to fend for themselves at birth.


A boa constrictor consumes a rodent.A boa constrictor consumes a rodent.


All snakes are carnivores. Some kinds eat small animals, such as snails or worms, but most feed on larger prey, such as frogs, birds and mammals. Snakes have special loosely hinged jaws that can open extremely wide. Their skin can also stretch to take large prey. They swallow their prey whole, using their sharp teeth to pull it into the throat and their muscles to squeeze it into the stomach. A snake may only need to hunt and feed every few weeks or even months.

There are 3315 known species of snake.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile