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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Animals With No Legs

Snakes are reptiles with no legs. Scientists believe that there are over 2900 species of snakes in the world today. These amazing creatures can be found on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica. They can also be found in the sea, and in the Himalayan Mountains of Asia. There are several islands from which snakes are absent, such as Iceland, New Zealand and Ireland. Snakes range in size from tiny Barbados Thread snakes with a length of about 10 centimeters to the large pythons which measures about 9 meters (30 ft) long, and the anaconda, which measures about 7.5 meters (25 ft) long and is regarded as the heaviest snake on Earth.

They all have many things in common. Their skins are covered with scales that keep their bodies from losing too much moisture, and their glossy stare is caused by the fact that their eyes are covered by their clear scales (known as the brille) rather than movable eyelids. Most of these creatures have only one functional lung. All snakes are strictly carnivorous, that is they eat small animals including other snakes, lizards, small mammals, birds, eggs, fish snails or insects. They catch their prey and swallow it whole. The snake's jaw is quite a complex structure. They can dislocate their jaws, because they have a very flexible lower jaw. The two halves of which are not rigidly attached, and numerous other joints in their skull, makes it possible for snakes such as pythons open their mouths wide enough to swallow their prey whole, even if it is superior in diameter than the snake itself (snakes do not chew their prey).

All snakes have a strong sense of taste and smell. But probably one of the most amazing things about the snake is its forked tongue. They smell by using their forked tongues to collect airborne particles, then passing them to an olfactory sense organ (Vomeronasal organ) in the mouth for examination. The fork in the tongue gives snakes a kind of directional sense of smell and taste at the same time. They maintain their tongues continually in motion, sampling particles from the air, ground, as well as water, examining the chemicals found, and determining the presence of prey or predators in the local surrounding.

Most snakes, like the Python are hatched from eggs (oviparous). After they lay their eggs, females will typically incubate them until they hatch. During the incubation period, females will not consume and merely leave to bask in order to raise their body temperature. But some species of snakes, like the Rattlesnakes, bear live young (viviparous). After the live young are born or hatched the mother snake pays no attention to them. Most snakes lay about 15 eggs, but the python may lay up to 80 per clutch.

So far I haven’t mentioned a word about snakes whose venom or saliva is poisonous. But don´t worry! Most snakes are harmless. They do not usually prey on humans, and most will not attack human beings unless the snake is bothered or wounded, preferring instead to avoid contact. “It’s improbable that you´ll ever see a venomous viper or cobra in your backyard!”

Source: Wikipedia

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