How Well Do You Know Snakes?

Think you know a thing or two about snakes? You might be surprised by a few of these fun facts!

Snakes by the Numbers

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3,000: The estimated number of snake species

There are around 3,000 species of snakes in the world. Around 600 of them are venomous, but fewer than half of that number are dangerous to humans, the World Health Organization reports.

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1/10: The amount of food a snake eats compared to a mammal of the same size

Because they're cold-blooded, snakes eat far less food than a similarly sized mammal, according to the San Diego Zoo. A small snake might eat once a week, whereas a giant anaconda might go weeks or even months after a large meal.

Credit: Kevin Scott Ramos/Guinness World Records

25: The length (in feet) of the longest snake in captivity, plus two inches

The Guinness record for longest snake in captivity is held by a reticulated python named Medusa who lives in Kansas City, Mo. In addition to her impressive length, she weighs in at 350 pounds.

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40: Length (in feet) of the largest snake that has ever existed

The largest snake that ever existed grew to more than 40 feet long and weighed more than a ton, Smithsonian.com reports. You don't have to worry about running into a Titanoboa, though, because it lived nearly 60 million years ago. And, obviously, is not pictured here.

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500: Weight (in pounds) of the heaviest snake species

According to the San Diego Zoo, the heaviest snake species living today is the green anaconda, which can weigh up to 500 pounds.

Credit: Blair Hedge, Penn State University/AP

4: Length (in inches) of the shortest snake known to man

The smallest snake in the world is only 4 inches long and as thin as a piece of spaghetti, according to BBC News. It's a type of thread snake that lives on Barbados that was first discovered in 2008.

Credit: Ross/Tom Stack Assoc/Alamy

2: Length (in inches) of the longest snake fangs

The snake with the longest fangs is the Gaboon viper. According to Guinness, a 6-foot-long specimen had fangs measuring 2 inches.

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12.5: Speed (in miles per hour) of the black mamba

The black mamba may be the fastest snake in the world. It's highly venomous but uses its speed to escape threats rather than to attack, according to National Geographic.

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40: Age of the oldest recorded snake

The oldest recorded snake was a boa constrictor that died at the age of 40 in 1977, according to the San Diego Zoo. (Actual snake not pictured.)

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735,000: Estimated number of pet snakes in the U.S.

Pet reptiles have become more popular in recent years, and it's estimated that there are about 735,000 pet snakes in the United Snakes, er, States, Petfinder reports.

  • Don't try to win a staring contest with a snake: It'll never blink, because snakes have no eyelids, says the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Their eyes are protected by a special transparent scale called a spectacle. One of the signs that a snake is about to shed its skin is that this scale over its eyes gets cloudy.
  • Snakes are not slimy! They're covered with scales that are made of keratin, the same material that nails and hair are made of. The scales are smooth and in some cases shiny, but definitely dry.
  • Snakes have no external ears and no eardrums, according to Science Mag, but you'll have to be really quiet to sneak up on one anyway, because they can detect vibrations through the ground. They also still have the tiny inner-ear bones used for hearing, connected directly to the jawbone, which may detect vibrations through the air as well.
  • Snakes can't tear or bite their prey, so they have to swallow it whole, even when it's bigger than their heads, says Life's Little Mysteries. But contrary to rumor, their jaws do not unhinge. Rather, the lower jaw consists of two parts that can move independently, attached in front by a flexible ligament.

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