The World Snake Day is observed on July 16 every year. With about 3,458 species known so far, snakes are a successful group of predatory vertebrates. The day aims to create awareness and education around snakes for the general public.
According to the World Health Organization(WHO), only about 200 species pose a significant risk to human life. The sinuous muscles and sharp fangs of snakes have captured the imagination of human societies for centuries, with the earliest known carved representation nearly 12,000 years ago in Turkey. They have played a major role in religion and mythology, from the Bible to the Mahabharata to ancient Egyptian texts. Snakes play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling rodents and pests, and greater awareness can help raise support to understand these elusive creatures further. Common species are sometimes kept as pets, but in a rush, for exotic species, much damage can be done.
On the occasion of the World Snake Day, here are some Snake Facts you must know:
- There are about 3,458 known species of snakes living in almost every climatological region in the world – from the humid rainforests of South/ Central America and Southern Asia to the icy Tundra, and of course right here in the bushveld of South Africa.
- Most snakes are ambush predators using their highly developed senses of sight, taste, hearing, and touch to locate, identify, and strike their prey. They are efficient hunters, killing their prey swiftly and only killing what they require to survive.
- Snakes cannot bite their food so, to eat large prey, they will unhinge their jaw to swallow the food whole.
- A snake’s skin does not grow with the body the same way it does in humans. Each year, snakes will shed their skins 3-6 times to allow for further growth. This process usually lasts for a few days.
- Despite snakes often being feared, more people are killed by bees than snakes every year.
- The Black Mamba is the fastest snake in the world and can move up to 12mph (20kmph).
- The smallest snakes in the world are Brahminy blind snakes which can be as short as 2 ½ inches long. They are often mistaken for earthworms.