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snake’s forked tongue

The ‘king cobra’, a species of snake, is the national reptile of India, Asia.

The ‘timber rattler’, species of snake, is the state reptile of West Virginia, the USA.

Whether venomous or non-venomous, all snakes swallow their prey whole!

Of all the 2,900 or 3,100 species of snakes in the world, some 725 species are venomous (having poison in their bite to kill their prey before swallowing), and of them, only 250 species have venom strong enough to kill a person!!

snake’s fangs

The smallest snake, discovered on the Caribbean island of Barbados is less than 4 inches, and the longest snake is the python of Asia with 33 feet in length and 150 Kg. in weight, and the heaviest is the anaconda of South America with 30 feet in length and 400 Kg. in weight!

Snakes can climb trees, and can swim very well.  There are some species of snakes that can fly {not actually flying in the true sense, but just jumps from the top branches of the tree to the ground or to the other nearest tree)!

Snakes do not have external ears and cannot hear the sounds carried by air.  They can feel the vibrations on the ground made by other animals by the sensory organs along their whole body.  They smell the things with the help of their forked tongue, and some snakes can find out a hidden animal by the heat radiated by that animal!

a snake’s hood

Black mamba, a species of snake in Africa, is the world’s fastest snake!

The ‘rough-scaled snake’, a kind of ‘tiger snake’, is the slowest snake in the world – moving at the speed of 3-7 kph (1-3 mph)!

The ‘sea snake’ and ‘fierce snake’ from Australia have the most deadly venom in the world of snakes!

A snake sheds (sloughs) its skin from time to time, i.e. as the snake grows, its old skin is removed and a new skin is grown, which is called ‘shedding or sloughing’.

snake’s old skin after shedding

Some snakes, such as cobras, have hoods – the loose skin on the neck that they stretch flat to form a hood.  These snakes show their hoods when they are threatened to make themselves look bigger and more dangerous!

Snakes have been associated with people for thousands of years.  Almost all the ancient and modern societies have the snake mentioned in their scriptures, either with the name ‘snake’ or ‘serpent’!

The snake has been the symbol of re-birth and health since ages, and has been used (as shown in the logo) to represent the medical science, not only in the ancient times but also in the modern age!

(a handbag made of snake skin)

The snake has been worshipped as a deity in most of the religions in the world; however, in some religions the snake is associated with evil and devil.  And, whatever religion they might belong to, people tend to kill a snake the moment they set their eyes on it, not caring whether it is venomous or non-venomous!

All through the history, people have shown great fascination for snakes.  Snakes have been used in several entertainments: from the snake-charmers by the roadside of villages and cities in parts of Asia, the classical dances depicting the folk tales of some cultures, the popular snake-dance shows to the modern zoos and snake parks!

milking a snake

Some people eat snakes, especially in the Asian countries, and most of the international hotels also serve snake meat as a special dish.  Some people keep snakes as pets!

Snakes have been mentioned in fables, folk songs, stories, cartoons and motion pictures (films/movies), and more recently, there are snake video games.

The leather goods made from the skins of snakes had been in great demand until the governments of almost all countries imposed a ban on trade in snake skins a few years ago.  There are some people who made a living by catching snakes and selling their skins, and in some places, people kept  snakes on forms for their skins!

(a snake venom medicine)

Since the international ban on snake skin trade, those people who made their living by selling the snake skins have stopped killing the snakes, and have started milking the snakes (= extracting venom (poison) from the venomous snakes) and sold the venom to the medicine making companies!  The snake venom is used in making anti-venom medicine and other sorts of medicine!

The snake venom may be the most expensive liquid found naturally. On the international market, a gram of dried snake venom brings $ 1,000-1,500, i.e. $ 1 million per kilo, which is equal to the cost of 50,000 barrels of oil!!

About the Author:BC Kumar

BC Kumar, an English Language Teacher, taught in numerous countries including Ethiopia, Oman and India, shares his knowledge and passion for the English Language. Disclaimer: This is a free educational website and all content has been compiled by the author. All copyrights to images and videos belong to their respective owners.

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