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WHAT IS A SNAKE? A snake is a reptile without legs. A reptile usually has scales, lays eggs, breathes air, and doesn’t spend much time taking care of its babies. It is also cold-blooded, which means that its body doesn’t stay the same temperature all the time. (Our bodies stay at 98.6 F all day.) Snakes get very cold on winter days and very hot in the summer. Because of this, snakes usually stay in burrows during very hot and cold weather. A burrow is a hole in the ground where they can live.
WHAT DO SNAKES EAT? All snakes are carnivores (car-ni-vorz) or meat-eaters. Small snakes eat bugs and frogs. Larger ones eat fish, birds, mice, and rabbits. They use sharp teeth and strong muscles to catch the prey. If the prey animal is bigger than the snake’s mouth, the snake can dislocate (unhinge) its bottom jaw to fit the big animal in.
WHAT IS VENOM? Venom is a poison the snake puts into its prey through its fangs (teeth). This either kills the prey animal or makes it so the prey can’t move. Once venom gets into the prey, it is easy for the snake to eat it. The snakes on this page DO HAVE VENOM. Some venomous snakes have bright colors or patterns which can warn us. Rattlesnakes have rattles to warn away animals or people that might hurt them
Behler, John and King, F. Wayne. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992.
Conant, Roger and Joseph Collin. Peterson’s Reptiles and Amphibians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1991.Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission external image snake021.jpg
external image 756148-771701-117.jpg SNAKES THE FAMILY name for poisonous New World snakes of the same family as the Old World cobras. About 30 species inhabit Mexico, Central America, and N South America; two are found in the United States. The Eastern coral snake ( Micrurus fulvius ), or harlequin snake, is found in the SE United States and N Mexico. It is a burrowing snake with a small, blunt head and a cylindrical body, averaging 2 1/2 ft (75 cm) in length. The body is ringed with bands of black, red, and yellow; the tail has yellow and black rings only. The Sonoran, or Western, coral snake ( Micruroides euryxanthus ) is a rather rare species found in the SW United States and NW Mexico. It is about 18 in. (45 cm) long and has much broader bands of yellow than those of the Eastern species. Coral snakes can be distinguished from a number of similarly colored harmless snakes by the fact that they are the only ones with red bands touching yellow ones. The venom of coral snakes, like that of cobras, acts on the nervous system and causes paralysis; the mortality rate among humans who are bitten is high. However, coral snakes are infrequently encountered because of their burrowing habits, and they seldom bite unless handled. They feed on other snakes and on lizards. Coral snakes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Elapidae