Their bodies are limbless, slender, and linear. They consume meat (carnivores). Since they have cold blood and are ectothermic, they respond to environmental temperature changes by changing their internal body temperature.
Despite not having outer ears like us, snakes can hear because sound waves. The air hits their skin and travel from muscle to bone. The inner ear receives vibrations from the sound when it reaches the ear bone beneath the skull. The brain processes the sound as a result.
Snakes cannot see color. But their eyes are equipped with a combination of light receptors that create crisp images in bright light and fuzzy vision in low light. Because different species lead diverse lives, so do their eye complexity. Snakes that hunt by sight and dwell above ground have sharp vision and strong eyesight. But snakes that live primarily underground have smaller eyes that can only process light and dark.
Pit organs on some species’ skulls allow them to see heat sources in their environment like infrared goggles, which is a useful characteristic for nocturnal warm-blooded animal predators. These species include boas and pythons in particular.
Smell: Snakes have a secondary system in addition to their nasal apertures. It carries airborne smells to an olfactory chamber for processing, just like humans do. The Jacobson’s organs are two fluid-filled sacs at the roof of the mouth that connect to a second, smaller sensory chamber, and when a snake flicks its tongue, it is collecting odor particles for transmission there. Since snakes lack a sense of taste, the tongue is simply employed to aid in this process.
Growth & Structure
Snakes range from 4 inches (10 cm) to more than 30 feet (9 meters) in length. Hundreds of tiny vertebrae and ribs span this distance. It connect to each other through an intricate system of muscles, creating unrivaled flexibility (See Getting Around section). An extremely elastic skin attaches to the muscles. It is covered with scales made of keratin — the same substance as human fingernails. The scales are produced by the epidermis, the outer layer of skin. As the snake grows, the number and the pattern of its scales stay the same, although a snake’s scales are shed many times over the course of its life.
The lack of limbs can seem to hinder a person’s ability to find love, but snakes are unaffected by this. A female snake starts releasing pheromones from skin glands on her back when she’s ready to mate. She goes about her daily business, pushing off resistance points on the ground, leaving an odor trail (See Getting Around). A sexually developed male will hunt her down if he smells her and follows her scent. By creeping over the female and rubbing his chin against the back of her head, the male snake starts courting her.
She raises her tail when she is ready. At that time, he wraps his tail around hers so that the cloaca, which serves as the exit point for waste and reproductive fluid, is where the bottoms of their tails meet. The hemipenes, the male’s two sexual organs, are inserted; they then expand and discharge sperm. Snake sex can last all day, although it typically lasts less than an hour.
About once or twice a year, female snakes reproduce; however, the birthing processes differ between species. One to 150 live young can be born at a time by some snakes, whereas just one to one hundred eggs can be laid at a time by others. Some snakes even mix these two methods by keeping the eggs inside until they hatch, at which point the infants are born live. Female snakes generally do not sit on their eggs like hens do, although occasionally they will do so for a few days after the eggs and young have left the mother’s body.
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