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WHAT IS A SNAKE?

Snakes are reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded, have skin covered with scales, and lay eggs. (Some snakes don't actually lay their eggs, but hold them inside until they hatch.) Snakes have no legs and no ears. Skilled predators, snakes help maintain the balance of nature by eating prey that reproduces frequently, everything from earthworms to rabbits. Snakes are especially important in the control of rodents such as mice and rats.
















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A slender snake swallows an animal much bigger than itself because of the flexibility of a snakes body and the special construction of its jaws. A snake's upper and lower jaws are loosely connected: the lower jaw has two parts that are joined by flexible tissue. All these features allow a snake to open its mouth very wide. Taking a prey animal in headfirst, a snake swallows it by moving first one side of its jaws forward and then the other.

Large amounts of saliva produced in snake's mouth make the prey go down easier. Small animals are usually swallowed in a few minutes, but it may take several hours to consume a large one. After a snake has eaten a big meal, it may not hunt again for several weeks. If neccesary, snakes can go without food for months at a time.

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