Snakes (Encyclopedia of Science)
Snakes are limbless reptiles with long, cylindrical bodies, scaly skin, lidless eyes, and a forked tongue. Most species are not poisonous, some are mildly poisonous, and others produce a deadly poison. The term venom is commonly used to describe the poison produced by a snake.
All snakes are carnivores (meat-eaters) and cold blooded, meaning their body temperature is determined by the environment rather than being internally regulated. For this reason, snakes are found mainly in tropical and temperate regions, and are absent in cold climate zones.
Types of snakes
The 2,700 species of snakes fall into four superfamilies: Boidae (boas, anacondas, and pythons), Elapidae (cobras, coral snakes, mambas, and kraits), Colubridae (king snakes, water snakes, garter snakes, black snakes, and adders, to name only a few) and Viperidae (true vipers and pit vipers).
Members of the Boidae family are among the most primitive of all snakes. They are constrictors that kill their prey by squeezing it to death. Some of the largest snakes are members of this family. Some anacondas, for example, have been known to grow to more than 11 meters (37 feet) in length.
Snakes in the Elapidae family have grooved or hollow fangs in the front of the mouth. The bases of the fangs are connected to the venom gland. Venom is injected...
(The entire section is 1227 words.)
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