Snakes of the United States
A snake is an elongate reptile of the suborder Serpentes. Like all reptiles, snakes are ectothermic and covered in scales. All snakes are carnivorous and can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids, hind limbs, external ears, and the presence of only vestigial forelimbs. The 2,700+ species of snakes spread across every continent except Antarctica ranging in size from the tiny, 10 cm long thread snake to pythons and anacondas at 9 m (30 ft) long. In order to accommodate snakes' narrow bodies, paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side.
While venomous snakes comprise a minority of the species, some possess potent venom capable of causing painful injury or death to humans. However, venom in snakes is primarily for killing and subduing prey rather than for self-defense. Snakes may have evolved from a lizard which adapted to burrowing during the Cretaceous period, though some scientists have postulated an aquatic origin. The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period.
A literary word for snake is serpent (a Middle English word which comes from Old French, and ultimately from *serp-, "to creep"). The serpent is also a symbol of the healing arts.
There are 5 groups of snakes found in the United States. They range through all of the states, including Alaska! They are as follows:
The majority of the world's snake belong to the family Colubridae. There is so much diversification of structure within this family that it has been divided into groups known as subfamilies. Most of the colubrids, as the snakes of this family are called, are the typical harmless snakes that predominate in every continent except Australia.
Snakes of the family Viperidae, commonly called vipers, are found only in the eastern hemisphere and are absent from Australia. Typically, the snakes of this family are rather stout-bodied terrestrial reptiles, though some have taken to subterranean habits and others live in trees. The colors and patterns of some of the species are positively gorgeous.
Some of the world's most infamous snakes belong to the family Elapidae - the group which includes caobras and mambas. Elapid snakes, as they are called, are found on all the continental land masses except Europe. In Australia, they predominate over other kinds, and that cntinent is the only one which has more venomous species than non-venomous species.
The Boas of the United States appear as pygmies when compared with the larger forms of the tropics. They are stout-bodied, blunt-tailed snakes which seldom exceed two feet in length.
The blind snakes are mostly tropical snakes, but have a few representatives in the United States. They are diminative burrowing reptiles that are confined to the southcentral and southwestern portions of the continent. They are commonly 12 to 15 inches long, brownish or even pink in color, with degenerated eyes that have all but lost their function. Ants and their pupae, as well as termites, make up the bulk of the diet of these snakes.