Why in the news?
- World Snake Day, held every year on July 16, aims to increase awareness regarding the over 3,500 snake species that exist across the world.
- The day aims to change the negative perception surrounding snakes and promote the love for all living beings — even the ones we fear.
- Of 3,500 species of the snake around the world, only 600 are venomous.
- Snakes are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is variable and regulated by external sources. Unlike mammals and birds that are able to internally regulate their body temperature, reptiles need to use sources of heat, like the sun, to warm up.
- While approximately 70% of snakes lay eggs, others don’t. Snakes living in especially colder climates have live births because the eggs wouldn’t survive outside.
- They don’t have eyelids and smell with their tongues instead of nostrils.
- Snakes have very flexible lower jaws which allows them to eat animals who are 75% – 100% larger than their own head. The chemicals in their digestive tract will do all the work and break down the food once ingested.
- Snakes lack external ears. Then how do they sense sound? Well, bones in the lower jaw of snakes are capable of picking up sound waves from water or ground surface.
- Snake venom is actually modified saliva. Snakes use venom to immobilise and digest prey, and as a defence against threats.
Snakes and India
- The species commonly found across India are the non- venomous rat snakes; venomous such as spectacled cobras and the Russell’s Viper.
- Of these 600 venomous snakes, 330 species are found in India.
- The most commonly found dangerous snakes are the ones we call the big four — krait, Russel’s viper, saw-scaled viper and Indian-spectacled cobra.