Ah, my favorite time of year—National Serpent Day. Snakes are fantastically varied, beautiful, and often misunderstood creatures, and while most people fear them for their venom, the majority of these slitherers are harmless to humans. So, in the spirit of the day, and with the hope to teach you a bit more about them, here are a few notable snakes post to your ophiophobic friend’s page.
Snakes Can Be Huge
Records can be dubious, but the heaviest snake is undoubtedly the green anaconda. Weighing up to 500 pounds, green anacondas can swallow crocodiles whole after squeezing the life out of them with their crushing bulk. These anacondas may also hold the record for the longest snake, however, with verified reports hard to come by, the reticulated python may in fact grow longer — to over 30 feet.
Snakes Can Be Adorably Small
The smallest known snake is Leptotyphlops carlae, or the Barbados threadsnake. It grows to barely four inches long, and is skinnier than spaghetti. At this size, the snake may be at the biological limit for the species — get any smaller and there wouldn’t be anything small enough for the snake to fit in its cute little face. JUST LOOK AT HOW CUTE ITS FACE IS.
Snakes Can Be Deadly
Though most snakes are not venomous, some are indeed dangerous. The most venomous snake in the world is the inland taipan, native to Australia (because of course it is). Imagine a snowflake falling on your skin. Imagine how much it actually weighs. Now half that. That’s how much venom from the inland taipan it would take to kill 50 percent of people who’ve been bit.
Snakes Have Needles for Teeth. Big, Long, Needles.
The “Longest Fangs” (and heaviest venomous snake) trophy goes to the Gaboon viper, Bitis gabonica. Its fangs, of the solenoglyphous variety if you’re fancy, are just like hypodermic needles — hollow and sharp, delivering a chemical from the base to the tip. They can measure up to two inches long, and go right through a small mouse (not confirmed, but just think about it).
You Can’t Escape Snakes in the Sky
Hey so: some snakes can fly! (Well, technically speaking…glide.) Snakes of the genus Chrysopelea get around by climbing up trees, launching themselves into the air, and flattening their bodies into a curved wing to give them a decent glide ratio. It actually looks like they are slithering through the air because they are. Chrysopelea are also decently venomous, but you should be fineHEADS UP.
You Can’t Escape Snakes in the Sea
The inland taipan might be the most venomous snake, but if you look at the rest of the list, six out of the next ten remaining snakes are sea snakes. Hydrophiinae, or sea snakes, spend most—if not all—of their lives in marine environments, superbly adapted to aquatic life (yes, the yellow-bellied sea snake in the photo above evolved a flipper for a tail; they all have those). Closely related to the land-based snakes of Australia, you can again blame Australia.
But in all seriousness, snakes are fascinating and gorgeous creatures who have been sliding around since the dinosaurs. Though a few venomous species may give snakes a bad rap, the truth is that most of them are harmless, undeserving of the second most-feared thing title. That should definitely be car accidents. Or vaping.
- All snakes do in fact have necks.
- No snake is “poisonous.” If an animal injects another with a toxin, that’s a venom. If an animal has to be eaten to transfer the toxin, that’s a poison.