Snakes

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Snakes are beneficial animals because they feed on a wide variety of human pests. Regardless of their poisonous status, snakes scare people and they are unwelcome near human habitats. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify, prevent, and control these creatures.

 HOW DO I KNOW IF A SNAKE IS POISONOUS?

  • There are 17 species of snakes in Minnesota. Two of them -- the timber rattlesnake and the massasauga -- are poisonous.

  • These venomous species are relatively rare and they are hardly ever seen anywhere near urban areas. They are thought to be in the southeastern part of the state and are treated as endangered species. Thus, they protected by the state law.

  • Although venomous snakes are dangerous, their bites are rarely fatal.

  • The pupils of poisonous snake are oval. (Non-poisonous snakes have round pupils.)

  • Poisonous snake have undivided scales on the underside of the tail. (The scales are divided in harmless snakes.)

WHAT KIND OF SNAKE IS IT?

  • To identify snakes, you should be familiar with the color and pattern of the bands, stripes, blotches or spots that may be found on the snake’s body. In addition, the geographical location, habitat, size, shape, texture, and behavior of snakes will help you identify them.

  • Several non-poisonous snakes, including garter snakes, adapt especially well to the suburbs.

  • Email a picture of the snake in question to Adam’s certified entomologist and he will identify it for you.

  • Ticks, daddy-longlegs, scorpions and mites.

WHY ARE SNAKES IN MY YARD?

  • Since snakes are ectothermic (cold-blooded), they need to regulate their body temperature by external means and may find your yard ideal because of the sun or shade. For example, when it is hot, snakes hide in shaded places. During cool days, they sun themselves in open places.

  • Snakes cannot tolerate cold winter. Therefore, they hibernate in groups in dens, which can be holes in the ground, under rocks, concrete steps, slabs, patios, or in the foundations of buildings—or they make their way inside your home.

  • In spring, when temperatures are above 50°F, most snakes leave their over-wintering sites and move to hunting places.

WHAT DO SNAKES EAT?

  • Snakes feed on small animals, such as rats, mice, frogs, lizards, birds, insects, other snakes, etc.

  • Snakes usually eat two to three times their own weight.

  • Snakes rely on their senses of sight, smell, or thermo-sensitivity to locate prey.

  • Although snakes do not have any external ears, they "hear" ground vibrations with the scales on their belly and lower jaw.

  • Snakes can perceive prey at 10 to 15 feet. At farther distances, they only detect movement.

  • The vision of many snakes, like the rattlesnake, is better suited for nocturnal searching. While, some species, such as racers and garter snakes, have eyes specialized for diurnal (daytime) activity.

  • Snakes also have pit organs that detect infrared radiation, enabling them to form “thermal image’ of predators or prey.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF SNAKES?

  • Female snakes reproduce about once or twice a year; however, the methods of birth vary among species.

  • Most snakes lay eggs in moist, protected places, such as in sand or sawdust piles, rotting stumps, or under rocks.

  • Other snakes, such as copperheads, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, garter snakes, and water snakes, give birth to live young.

  • Snakes that give live birth actually keep the eggs inside their body until they hatch.

  • Eggs usually hatch in 60 days.

  • Neonates (a newly-born snake) break out the egg's shell by using a special egg tooth, which they soon lose afterward.

  • Neonates grow by shedding their skin.

  • Adults mate and repeat the life cycle.

9 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SNAKES:

  • Snakes do not have eyelids. Instead, snakes have a transparent covering that is shed with the skin.

  • Snakes smell with their tongue.

  • Snake’s scales are made up of something called Keratin, which is the same thing that our fingernails are made from.

  • More people are killed each year by bees than by snakes.

  • The ancient Greek god, Asklepios, was thought to be a healer of the sick and injured and would send his servants, the snake, to help them. To this day the Aesculapian snake forms part of the symbols representing physicians and veterinarians.

  • Snakes can open their mouth up to 150 degrees which allows them to eat prey bigger than their head.

  • Snakes can’t bite food so have to swallow it whole.

  • Snakes used in snake charming performances respond to movement, not sound.

  • Snakes are found on every continent of the world except Antarctica.