Kolb Page 1 Snakes are a very dominant species in our world. They are silent assassins that can kill even a creature as great as a human. They can be less than twelve inches long or over twenty-five feet long. They eat a wide variety of foods, although none are herbivorous. Snakes are classified into families and then into various species. There are two thousand, one hundred, twenty-five different species of snakes.
Most are not harmful to humans in any way. The timber rattlesnake can vary in color from yellow with V-shaped bands, to almost solid black. They can be found on rocky slopes in hardwood forests. They usually eat small rodents or red squirrels. Timber rattlesnakes grow between forty-eight and sixty-two feet long (Brothner, 93). The Asian pit viper grows between two to five feet long.
The reactions to a bite and mortality rate vary, but bites mostly cause tissue damage. The mortality rate is usually low (Park, 1). The king cobra is the longest snake that carries venom in the world. It has enough neurotoxin's in the venom, it could kill an elephant with one bite.
The king cobra can stand up in a bone-chilling pose. It is usually shy and aggressive if provoked (Klum, 104). The king cobra frequently feeds on other snakes of its kind. It had a visible trachea, which is a tube that can stick out of its mouth like a tongue. This allows the snake to breathe while it is eating. The cobra's fangs are about ten millimeters long.
Their hatchlings emerge with poison, which gradually increases in quantity as they get larger. They lay between twenty and forty eggs. King cobras are known to grow up to eighteen feet long (Klum, 110). King cobra antivenom is made at the Queen Savovabha Memorial Institute's snake farm located in Bangkok. Cobras are milked every few Kolb Page 2 weeks. A small amount of venom is put in a horse in which the horse makes antibodies for the venom.
Horse plasma is given to a victim. It will suppress the venom's toxic effects. (Klum, 114). The king cobra thrives in Southern Asia. A bite will cause rapid swelling, loss of consciousness, dizziness, erratic heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. The mortality rate depends on the amount of venom produced.
Most bites produce non-lethal amounts of venom. The Australian brown snake ranges in length between four and seven feet long. Reactions to the bite are respiratory or a very low onset of cardiac distress. Death can be subtle and unexpected.
It is the most dangerous Australian snake, but the mortality rate is moderate. The barbs A marilla or fer-de-lance, can grow up to seven feet long and live from Brazil to Tropical Mexico. A bite can cause severe tissue damage and the mortality rate is moderate. The black mamba can grow up to fourteen feet long and is very quick. It lives in Central Africa.
A bite can cause dizziness, erratic heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. The mortality rate is high, and nears one hundred percent without antivenom. The boom slang is less than six feet long and thrives in African savannas. A bite can cause a rapid onset of dizziness and nausea, often followed by a minor recovery and sudden death due to internal hemorrhaging.
The mortality rate is high. The bushmaster can grow up to twelve feet long and live in wet tropical forests of South and Central America. Few bites happen but the mortality rate is high. The common Asian cobra ranges between four and eight feet in length and thrives in southern Asia. Bites can cause considerable tissue damage and sometimes paralysis.
The Kolb Page 3 mortality rate is probably no more than ten percent. The copperhead is less than four feet long and lives from Texas to New England. Pain and swelling may occur after a bite and bites are very seldom fatal. The coral snake ranges from two to five feet long. It lives in the Americas south of Canada. A bite might be painless and include a slow onset of paralysis and impaired breathing.
The mortality rates are rare, but high without mechanical respiration and antivenom. The cottonmouth water moccasin can grow up to five feet long. It thrives in the wetlands of the United States from Texas to Virginia. A bite may include rapidly onset severe pain, swelling, and possibly extensive tissue destruction. The mortality rate is low (Park, 2). Some people believe cottonmouths cannot strike while submerged under water.
This is not true (Sievert, 47). The death adder is less than three feet long and are native to Australia. Bites may produce a rapid onset of faintness and respiratory or cardiac distress. At least fifty percent of the people bitten by the death adder will die without the use of antivenom.
The desert horned viper live in dry areas of Western Asia and Africa. Bites will produce swelling and tissue damage. There is a low mortality rate without antivenom. The European viper grows between one and three feet long. A bite will produce bleeding and tissue damage. The mortality rate is low with antivenom.
The gaboon viper can be more than six feet long and larger in size than most other snakes. They have two-inch fangs. The gaboon viper lives south of the Sahara Desert and bites will produce massive tissue damage and internal bleeding. There have been few recorded bites.
Kolb Page 4 The krait can grow up to five feet long and live in Southeast Asia. A bite can cause numbness and a rapid onset of sleepiness. Possibly a fifty percent mortality rate, even with antivenom use. The puff adder can grow up to six feet long and tend to be fat.
They live throughout the Middle East and South of the Sahara. A bite will cause great pain, dizziness, and rapid large swelling. They have a moderate mortality rate, mostly due to internal bleeding. The rattlesnake can grow two to six feet long and live throughout the Western Hemisphere. A bite will cause swelling and a rapid onset of pain. The mortality rate is low but amputation is sometimes necessary to affected digits.
A bite from the Mojave rattler may cause temporary paralysis (Park, 2). Rattlesnakes gain a rattle each time they shed their skin which is two to four times a year (Sievert, 47). The spitting cobra can grow from five to seven feet long and thrive in Southern Africa. This snake attacks by spitting venom through holes in its front fangs as a defense. The venom is extremely irritating and can cause blindness. The tic-po longa or Russel's viper can grow more than five feet long.
They live throughout Asia. A bite may cause internal bleeding and are common. The mortality rate is moderate with antivenom. The carpet viper or saw-scaled viper can grow as much as two feet long. They live in dry areas from Africa to India. A bite may cause a fever or severe bleeding.
There is a high mortality rate because it causes more human deaths than any other snake with antivenom. Sea snakes, in general, live in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, except in the northeastern Kolb Page 5 Pacific Ocean. The bite from a sea snake is almost painless but may cause muscle pain or paralysis. The mortality rate is low and most bites are not envenomed.
The Sharp-nosed pit viper can grow up to five feet long. They live in South Vietnam, China, and Taiwan. The venom is the most toxic of all Asian pit vipers. A bite will cause tissue damage, a very rapid onset of swelling, and internal bleeding. There is a moderate mortality rate. It is also known as the one hundred pace snake (Park, 2).
The taipan can grow up to eleven feet long. They live in New Guinea and Australia. A bite will cause severe difficulty breathing and rapid paralysis. The mortality rate is close to one hundred percent without antivenom.
The tiger snake can grow up to six feet long. They live in South Australia. A bite will cause numbness, pain, and mental disturbances with a rapid onset of paralysis. The tiger snake may be the deadliest of every land snake. The yellow cobra can grow up to seven feet long. They live in South Africa.
Their venom is the most toxic of all cobras. A bite will cause breathing and cardiac difficulties and a rapid onset of swelling. The mortality rate is high without treatment or antivenom. The yellow cobra is also known as the cape cobra (Park, 3). The northern water snake has reddish-brown bands over its lighter colored back. It is usually found in or near water and eats primarily small fish and frogs.
Many people mistake it for a water moccasin. It grows between eighteen and forty-eight inches long. The hog nose snake has a snout that is strongly upturned and is a thick-bodied snake. Colors vary between spotted browns and yellows, to almost completely black. When it is Kolb Page 6 approached by a threat, it widens its neck like a cobra and creates a loud hissing sound. This may be followed by the snake "playing dead".
It grows between twenty and thirty-three inches long and is commonly known as the puff adder. The milk snake is a slender snake with reddish-brown spots with black edges. There is a V-shaped mark on the top of its head. Milk snakes are commonly found near barns, out buildings, and houses because they are attracted to mice. Early farmers thought that the snakes sucked the milk from their cows. These snakes, being constrictors, kill their prey by coiling around and squeezing.
Their length is between twenty-four to thirty-six inches (Brothner, 2). The common garter snake is found in old fields, lawns, and woodland edges. The snakes are highly varied in color. It is usually dark green with three light stripes; one on the mid-dorsal and one on both sides.
The common garter snake eats multiple types of insects, worms, slugs, and sometimes a small frog or mouse. They can grow between sixteen and thirty inches long. The black rat snake hatch out of eggs during the late summer, patterned with black, gray, and white, but it doesn't have the "Y" or "V" shape on the top of its head. It has a reddish tinge to the blotches.
Although it is a woodland species, it is very desirable to have around barns so it can seek and destroy rats and mice, which it kills by constricting them to death. It's eggs, are sometimes laid within shaving piles that are used for livestock bedding. The black rat snake can reach six feet long (Brothner, 3). The blind snake can grow between ten and fifteen inches long.
It has a smooth and shiny appearance. Its back can be tan, pink, brown or red. It eats ant eggs, pupae, and larvae, or termites. Their habitat is on prairies, hillsides, and semiarid parts with loose, moist soil so the Kolb Page 7 snake can burrow.
Blind snakes are nocturnal. When it is disturbed, it tilts its scales to create a silvery look. If it is pestered, it will coil up into a ball and create a foul smell (Sievert, 48). The western worm snake grows between eight and eleven inches long. It has glossy, dark gray or black dorsal scales and a reddish pink un patterned belly. The worm snake eats earthworms and soft-bodied insects.
It lives on damp, protected hillsides and along stream valleys. It burrows into loose soil. It is too small to bite and is usually encountered in the spring when there is damp soil (Sievert, 51). The ring neck snake has a gray or black back with a gold belly and smooth scales. There is a bright orange or gold ring around its neck.
The underside of the tail is normally reddish orange. It primarily eats earthworms and salamanders. Its habitat is in rocks and debris, moist areas under logs, and on rocky hillsides in wooded areas (Sievert, 52). The Flathead is a brown or rust color with a pink belly. It eats centipedes, slugs, insects, and insect larvae. It is found in moist areas under logs, debris, or rocks.
It is nocturnal and has rear fangs with no venom. The flathead is no threat to humans (Sievert, 53). The Texas night snake grows between twelve and sixteen inches long. It is a tan, brown, or grayish color with multiple brown or dark gray spots covering its back. Its underside is white or off-white. The Texas night snake eats lizards and frogs.
It lives in semiarid places with sandy or rocky substrates. They are nocturnal and possess rear fangs, but are harmless to people (Sievert, 55). The ground snake can grow between eight and twelve inches long. It had a yellow or white belly.
On the bottom of the tail, it may have feint crossbands. Kolb Page 8 Back may be (1) plain brown or orange brown, (2) brown on orange-brown with mid dorsal reddish line extending from neck, (3) brown or orange-brown with black bands in neck region or (4) brown or orange-brown with black blotches spaced down length of body. The ground snake eats spiders, centipedes, and insects. It lives in open places with sandy soil or lightly wooded areas. It is usually hidden from view. It is harmless to humans and usually found in the springtime (Sievert, 56).
The rough green snake grows between twenty and thirty-two inches long. It has a yellow-green back and keeled scales. It eats crickets, spiders, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. If threatened, it will go into the water. It is diurnal and climbs gracefully through trees (Sievert, 57) The coachwhip can grow between thirty-six and sixty inches long.
The eastern species is dark in the front and light in the back. The western species can be from light to dark brown and pinkish. Young coachwhips have a mottled pattern with crossbands on the back part of the body and a long tail. Coachwhips eat insects, snakes, rodents, and lizards. They live in dry, sandy areas but sometimes can be found in moist places. Sometimes, the coachwhip's erratic escape from danger may appear to be an attack (Sievert, 59).
The racer can grow between thirty-six and sixty inches long. It has a yellow belly and a plain brown or olive back. It eats lizards, frogs, birds, rodents, insects, and other snakes. It is found in many types of habitats.
It is diurnal and hunts with its head up. If disturbed, it will vibrate its tail rapidly. It will climb trees to escape danger but is usually found on the ground (Sievert, 60). Kolb Page 9 The northern scarlet snake grows fourteen to twenty inches long. It has a plain belly and the head and nose is red.
It has bands of black, red, and yellow that do not cross onto the belly. The red and yellow areas may have black spots. It eats lizards, snake eggs, small mice, and other snakes. Its habitat is on sandy or loamy areas so the snake can burrow. The northern scarlet snake is nocturnal and lives underground, so it is rarely encountered (Sievert, 69) The lined snake grows between seven and a half feet and fifteen inches long. It is gray with a yellow, white, or orange stripe down the middle of its back.
It feeds only on earthworms. Its habitat is on prairies, dumpsites, thinly wooded areas, and urban areas with protective cover (Sievert, 76). The western ribbon snake grows between nineteen and thirty inches long. It has a black back and a pale belly.
It has a yellow or orange stripe down its middle. It eats tadpoles, frogs, caterpillars, and fish. Its habitat is near water with thick vegetation. They give live birth to young (Sievert, 77). Graham's crayfish snake grows between eighteen and twenty-eight feet long. It has a brown back and a light stripe on its back.
It eats mostly crayfish, but sometimes eats frogs and snails. Its habitat is in slow moving waters with huge crayfish populations. If temperatures are moderate, it is active throughout the day. If temperatures are high, it is nocturnal. It hibernates and retreats into crayfish burrows (Sievert, 82). The diamondback water snake grows between thirty and forty-eight inches long.
It has diamond-shaped blotches separated by black stripes. It eats fish and frogs. It lives near permanent sources of water and is usually diurnal. It is aggressive and will bite (Sievert, 83). Kolb 10 Snakes are the most successful living reptiles (Smith, 134).
There are fourteen different families of snakes, five are in the United States (Smith, 138). Snakes are amazing creatures that have been studied for centuries. The fact that snakes can move in so many different ways, unhinge their jaw when they eat food larger than they are, or carry venom strong enough to kill a human is fascinating. I may grow up to be a herpetologist some day, so I can study snakes for a living.
Some people think that snakes are "works of the devil" or "creepy", but I think they can be very beautiful creatures. Work Cited Brothner, Richard, Alvin, Brei sch. "Venomous Snakes" New York State Conservation alist. Online Internet.
11 February 2003. Available HTTP: web Klum, Mattias. "Feared, Revered King Cobras". National Geographic Nov. 2001: 102-113.
The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Park, Ken, 2002 3 Feb. 2003. Available HTTP: web Sievert, Gregory. A Field Guide to Reptiles of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Smith, Hobart M., and Brodie, Edmond D., Jr.
A Giu de to Field Identification Reptiles of North America. Racine Western Publishing Company, INC., 1982.