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Reptiles are some of the oldest life animals on the planet and made their first visual aspect some 300 million old ages ago. It is believed that the first species of serpents contained limbs which became more and more decreased through great periods of clip, this phenomenon can be seen as a clear index merely how development took topographic point within a group of beings. Today rudimentary constructions occur in certain serpent households such as Pythonidae and Boidae, and are leftovers of constructions they one time possessed. Spurs which occur in the posterior place opposite the cloacae in Boas and Pythons is a clear illustration of rudimentary constructions that formed through clip.

Snakes are carnivorous reptilians that belong to the order Squamata ( Lepidosuaria ) , which is regarded the most of import gathering, every bit far as serpents are concerned. Squamates is a really diverse group of poikilothermic ( organisms that rely on their external environment to obtain the energy needed to ease metabolic and other procedures important for life ) , amniote craniates which contain the distinguishable feature of being elongated and covered in overlapping graduated tables. Squamata is subdivided into three distinguishable suborders: Ophidia or Serpentes, incorporating serpents, Sauria incorporating lizards and Amphisbaenia incorporating worm- lizards.

The suborder Ophidia contains 15 households which are subdivided into 456 genera that consist of more than 2900 species. Snakes have one of the widest distributional scopes in the carnal land, covering the whole planet except Antarctica ( Figure 1.1 ) . In South Africa entirely there occurs 166 species and races of serpents, 101 of these species have enlarged Fangs to present venom of which merely 15 are regarded as really unsafe and potentially fatal to adult male. This means that of all our serpent species merely 8.5 % are classified as unsafe, where disposal of antivenene is deemed necessary. The balance of deadly species is of no medical importance to adult male, in fact in some species the toxicity of their venom is less than that found in bees and WASP.

There are a few morphological features of Ophidia which distinguishes them from the other two suborders e.g. the deficiency of palpebras, external ears, the deficiency of limbs and the happening of a individual row of ventral graduated tables, whereas lizards and amphisbaenas differ in the sense that they have assorted forms of graduated tables that do non happen in specific rows. Amphisbaenians scale formation is untypical in the sense that graduated tables are arranged in rows around the organic structure of the animate being therefore purportedly miming the resemblance of an angleworm. The skulls of Snakes are really alone in the sense that their upper jaw castanetss are n’t united/interconnected at neb of the animate being, this enables the two jaw castanetss to move separate signifier one another and enables the serpent to get down big prey points. In contrary to popular belief serpents can nevertheless non luxate or perturb their jaws to get down big prey points, the two upper jaws are merely connected to each other through connective tissue which is extremely elastic and serves as the adhering factor between the jaws.

Snakes fulfill a important role/function in nature and can be seen as an built-in facet of our environment both as cardinal marauders and as quarry. They assist in modulating rodent Numberss and are good indexs of the natural balance of the environment ( bio-indicators ) . In add-on to this, research and development is being done on the belongingss of venom in the medical field. Research is being conducted on the applications of venom in Fieldss such as high blood force per unit area, mental upsets and diseases of the cardinal nervous system to advert but a few. Such is the complexness of venom that farther surveies, good to adult male, are indispensable. It is at that place for imperative that we conserve our serpents non merely for the saving of our environment, but besides for the well-being of world.

Figure 1.1: Indicates the distribution of serpents across the different continents of the Earth.

Development that took topographic point within the Class Reptilia

Reptiles evolved from prehistoric amphibious vehicles called Labrynthodonts ( Flank, 1997 ) , and harmonizing to palaeontologists made their first visual aspect in the Pennsylvanian epoch some 300 million old ages ago. They were besides the first craniates to get away dependence on H2O. The earliest signifiers of reptilians suggested a mixture of both amphibious and reptilian features, and diversified greatly over the following 200 million old ages. Reptiles were the dominant carnal group on Earth during the Mesozoic period, and were represented by 15 major groups. Merely 4 of these orders survive today. Extinct are the fishlike Ichtyosaurus, sail-backed Pelycosaurs, winging Pterosaurs, Mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, well-known dinosaurs like Brachiosaurs and many others. The dinosaurs included the largest animate beings of all time to walk on earth-the Sauropods, some of them making lengths of about 27 metres long. Many of the less familiar dinosaurs were no longer than poulets. ( Carr,1963 )

Several basic progresss made possible the rise and broad distribution of reptilians on land. Most of import was the amniote egg, with its tough outer covering and protective membranes, and a cornified tegument that protected the animate beings from drying out. The placement of the limbs besides made it possible for reptilians to travel more easy on land, and an improved circulatory system ensured that O rich blood reached the animate beings.

In their Mesozoic flower, Reptiles dominated the land, seas and air, and the ground for their dramatic diminution during this period is still non clear, although there are some guess by life scientists that the diminution was likely caused by a meteor shower which altered a dramatic alteration in clime and giving rise to the so called Ice Age. Warm blooded craniates ( Birds and Mammals ) began to spread out by the terminal of the Mesozoic period. By the clip the Cenozoic period arose merely 4 orders of reptilians still existed, and these same four have persisted to this twenty-four hours. The order Rhynchocephalia is represented by merely one species, the lizzardlike, farinaceous scaled Tuatara ( Sphenodon punctatus ) confined to New Zealand where its endurance is now threatened. The staying 3 orders have representatives throughout the universe. The order Testudines ( polo-necks ) is the most ancient, looking about 250 million old ages ago and staying virtually unchanged for the past 200 million old ages. The order Crocodylia ( crocodilians ) is somewhat less ancient and is traceable to the Permian thecodonts. The order Squamata refers to scaled reptilians that include lizards, amphisbaenids and serpents. This is the most recent order and was non common until the late Cretaceous times about 65 million old ages ago.

In order to sort serpents or other beings it is necessary to understand the beginning and development of the species and put them into specific genera and households ( Figure 1.2 )

Figure 1.2: Cladogram bespeaking how development took topographic point among assorted snake line of descents of modern and prehistoric times ( John & A ; Lee, 2000 )

Scientists believe that modern twenty-four hours serpents evolved from the household Varanidae, a group of lizards that belong to the genus Veranus. The dodos of Lapparentophis defrennei ( Figure 1.3 ) was found in North Africa as we know it today, and it represents the earliest member of the suborder Ophidia. This species nevertheless shows no direct nexus between earlier serpent like reptilians, and its beginning continues to boggle life scientists. Lapparentophis defrennei appeared on the Earth around 100 million old ages ago during the Cretaceous period and were about for approximately 35 million old ages, were after it got nonextant by the terminal of the Cretaceous period. Boidae was one of the seven households of serpents that arose after the Cretaceous period and was at its extremum of speciation during this clip. Colubridae in modern twenty-four hours times is the household that contains the largest sum of different serpent species, and foremost emerged some 36 million old ages ago during the late Eocene, and the beginning of the Oligocene period. During this clip Colubrids started to diversify at an huge rate and finally gave rise to more new species during the Miocene period. This variegation led to the disappearing of some of the more crude line of descents of serpents because they could no longer vie with the better altered species that was get downing to germinate. Viperidae ( vipers, rattle serpents and adders ) and Elapidae ( front fixed fang serpents by and large cobras and mambas and their relations ) originated during the Miocene period and belongs to the infraorder Alethinophidia. The household Viperidae is by far the most advanced evolved species of serpent in the universe and contains extremely specialised constructions that enable them to be a really successful huntsmans e.g. heat- sensitive cavities that developed on the upper labial and a brilliantly colored tail tip that occur in Agkistrodon sp. This is merely one illustration of how specialised this household of snakes is to last.

Figure 1.3: Showing a dodo of one of the earliest members of the suborder Ophidia (

Distinguising characteristics of the suborder Ophidia

All serpents are elongated, deficiency palpebras, external ears and osteoderms.

Snakes poses a bifurcate lingua which can be retracted into a sheath ( Figure 2.1 )

All have along anchor. ( Some have in surplus of 400 vertebrae ) , with many articulated ribs used preponderantly for motive power and keeping organic structure form.

The lower jaw is non fused, which allows the serpent to steep big points. They do nevertheless non luxate their jaw.

Prey is subdued either by bottleneck or by the injection of venom. In the instance of deadly serpents little prey points are bitten and held in the oral cavity until palsy or decease occurs, whereas big prey points are bitten and released to guarantee that harm do non happen to the serpent.

The bulk of species have merely the right lung but more crude species such as Pythonidae and Boidae besides contains a fundamental left lung.

Unlike lizards the tail can non be regenerated.

All serpents shed their tegument.

All serpents hatch from eggs, some are Oviparous ( eggs hatch outside the females organic structure ) , and some are ovoviviparous ( eggs hatch inside the female parents body therefore giving birth to populate immature ) .

Categorization of serpents

Kingdom: Animal kingdom

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Craniata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Ophidia ( Serpentes )

Infraorders: -Alethinophidia


The categorization of serpents are based on different morphological constructions

The general morphology of serpents is a important factor used in their Taxonomy. Factors such as the agreement of castanetss in the skull and other parts of the skeleton, particularly the presence or absence of a pelvic girdle are used to separate between separate and races of serpents. The hypapohyses ( vertebrae with downward indicating spike like projections ) , the coronoid bone ( a little bone that occur in the lower jaw ) , constructions of the hemipenes ( Figure 2.2, Jadin, 2000 ) and microscopic and biochemical stuff such as chromosome agreement and protein analyses are besides used in categorization of serpents.

The presence or absence hypapohyses, particularly in the lumbar part of the spinal column, is used as one of many diagnostic characters when sorting serpents. The hypapohyses is really outstanding in the genus Dasypeltis which use them excessively saw trough egg shells. There occurs much fluctuation in the form and size of the coronoid bone. It is peculiarly big in crude serpents such as Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae and Anomalepididae. The coronoid bone is really little or absent wholly in advanced serpent species. A hemipenis is the sex organ of male Squamates. Male serpents has two hemipenes likely for the ground that when one is damaged or injured, it still left with a spare one which can stay to work and transport out its normal map during sexual intercourse. This ensures that the male ‘s cistrons do n’t acquire lost and can still be carried over through sexual intercourse with females. Hemipenes, under normal conditions are used in an alternating manner when sexual intercourse occurs with female persons. Sperm is carried through the sulcus spermaticus ( which is the line running through the center of a male ‘s hmipenis ) to the female during sexual intercourse. By analyzing the tail of an person we are able to separate its sex. Males normally have a long tail which contains outstanding bumps of where the hemipenes are situated and females normally have really short dress suits without the happening of any outstanding bumps. The forms of hemipenes differ greatly from species to species and incorporate different cranial constructions therefore organizing a really of import method for taxonomers to sort serpents into different species and races. Relationships that occur between different species of Squamates as a consequence of development is best explained through the scrutiny hemipenal features of the different species. The map of the spinal columns and ridges that occurs on hemipenes of different species of male serpents, serves as an adaptation to guarantee that sexual intercourse lasts long plenty for egg fertilisation to happen.

Figure 2.2: Bespeaking the different forms and sizes of hemipenes of male Squamates. Note the different constructions happening on the hemipenis.


Hearing and Vision

Snakes can non hear airborne sounds due to the fact that they do non posses external ears. Snakes do nevertheless hold an auditory nervus enabling them to hear sounds going through a heavy medium. They are highly sensitive to quivers and can therefore observe person or something nearing them. For this ground people rarely see serpents whilst walking in the shrub, the serpent senses the quivers created by footfalls and beats a headlong retreat for screen. There is nevertheless serpents that do non withdraw when approached and this is a direct consequence of the morphological properties they contain. Bitis arietans, Bitis Atropos and, Bitis gabonica, are species of serpents that instead trust on their disguise to hide them from possible marauders and dangers than to travel off, and it is non surprising to happen out that Bitis arietans is responsible for 60 % of all snake bites in Southern Africa. Contrary to popular believe serpents do hold good vision. How else would they safely navigate through the shrub except of class via odor? Their vision nevertheless is used chiefly for observing motion. Most serpents have monocular vision ( unable to separate deepness of field ) whilst some serpents have binocular vision ( able to separate deepness of field ) e.g. Thelotornis capensis and Dispholidus typus. Snakes do non hold movable palpebras, alternatively they possess a fixed transparent shield which covers the oculus and is shed during shedding.

Sense of odor

For this map the serpent uses its lingua. The lingua is flickered ; picking up infinitesimal airborne atoms which when retracted back into the oral cavity is deposited onto variety meats situated in the roof of the oral cavity. These variety meats are known as the variety meats of Jacobson. Surveies have shown that serpents enjoys a similar sense of odor as we do, the epithelial tissue of the variety meats of Jacobson plants in precisely the same manner as the olfactive epithelial tissue we as worlds possess. The lingua is forked so that the serpent can observe the differences in strength of odor and therefore enabling it to turn up its prey really accurately. Snakes diet consists of rather a few prey points such as: rats, mice, little mammals, birds, toads, frogs, insects, lizards, fish, little antelope, eggs and other serpents, which is swallowed whole normally head foremost.


Sheding of skin depends chiefly on the growing rate. Juveniles for illustration shed their tegument more frequently than grownups for the simple ground that they are turning faster. Juveniles may cast their tegument every bit frequently as 12s times a twelvemonth whereas an grownup may merely cast its tegument three to four times a twelvemonth. During this procedure the full tegument is shed from the tip of the neb through to the tail including the oculus shields. During this clip the serpents eyes become opaque, curtailing the serpent ‘s vision and hence doing the serpent non merely more vulnerable, but besides more aggressive. A serpent may frequently travel into concealing during this period. You may besides happen serpents enjoying for longer periods prior to casting, the ground being higher temperature speeds up the development of new tegument, therefore cut downing the exposure period.

Cold Blooded – ( Ectothermic ) and Hibernation

All members of the order Squamata are so called cold blooded ( exothermal ) organisms. This merely means that unlike mammals and birds which generate heat internally ( endothermal ) , reptiles obtain their heat externally, normally from the Sun. All reptilians will enjoy in the Sun absorbing heat from their environment until their organic structures reach the right optimum temperature ( A± 30°C ) which allows them to work at their maximal potency. The advantage of ectothermy is that it is fuel efficient. Mammals on the other manus convert 90 % of what they eat into heat in order to keep biochemical and musculus efficiency which allows mammals the chance to map at colder temperatures. This method demands a changeless consumption of nutrient. Reptiles nevertheless become temporarily hibernating at colder temperatures and therefore waste no energy. A serpent can last and turn on 10 to fifteen repasts a twelvemonth. Reptiles will travel into hibernation when their optimum organic structure temperature can non be achieved from the environment. In countries where there is a important fluctuation in temperature serpents will travel into hibernation. The right term used is topor. Areas such as the lowveld where there is no important temperature fluctuations will see reptilians non traveling into true hibernation but instead into a province of burmation. During hibernation serpents live off the organic structure fat accumulated during the warm periods of the summer, and will exhibit really small marks of activity, therefore going sulky. A serpent will utilize anything that will offer it protection against the elements and predation. Sites which are used by Squamates during the winter or cold times of the twelvemonth for hibernation include deserted termite hills, hollow logs and stone crannies.


Sexually active males will near any serpent they come across. The reaction of the approached serpent will find how the brush develops. If the approached serpent is a male and reacts sharply it may give rise to a conflict between the two parties. Battles vary harmonizing to species, Vipers and Elapids by and large engage in a signifier of ritualistic wrestle, but refrain themselves from seize with teething each other. Colubrid snakes nevertheless react violently and seize with teeth each other badly. In some species of serpents several males group together amicably and follow a receptive female. Should at that place be no reaction from the approached snake the sexually active male uses its Vermonasal organ to chemically find the species and sex of the serpent it has approached. It does so with the usage of its lingua construing the pheromones breathing from the other serpent. Should it be of a different species, the male so seeks out a new mate.

All reptilians have internal fertilisation. The male places his caput on the dorsum of the female and winds his tail around the females and efforts to fall in their cloacas together. This is rarely achieved at the first effort. It sometimes takes hours, even yearss, for successful sexual intercourse to take topographic point. The sexual variety meats of the male consist of two phalluss, referred to as the hemipenes. Each hemipene is equipped with flexible spinal columns which inflate once incursion has occurred doing it hard for the male and female serpents to go dislodged. Sperm is transferred to the female via a individual phallus in Crocodilians and Chelonians, and mated phalluss in lizards and serpents ( although merely one phallus is used at a clip ) . Once coupling has taken topographic point the male will frequently remain with the female for a few yearss to copulate once more.

Fertilization of the ovule and antherozoid takes topographic point high in the Fallopian tube, so the egg bit by bit moves down into the Fallopian tube where the uterine secretory organs secrete a substance which surrounds the egg. The length of the embryologic development depends on the species and besides within the species depending on clime ( temperature ) , and ranges from 2-5 months.

As stated before all serpents hatch from eggs. The method of incubation nevertheless does differ between some species. The bulk of serpents lay eggs andleave them to be incubated externally ( oviviparous ) with no parental attention whatsoever. Speciess such as Python natalensis spirals around their eggs throughout incubation. This non merely protects the eggs but besides regulates the temperature to assist help with incubation. In other species such as Hemachatus haemachatus the female retains the eggs inside her organic structure to bring forth to the full developed unrecorded immature ( live-bearing ) .

Between four to eight hebdomads after copulating the female selects a suited site to lodge her eggs. The site chosen is normally a appropriately protected topographic point in the signifier of decomposing flora, hollow tree short pantss or any other suited location. The figure of eggs deposited depends on a assortment of fortunes for illustration, species, size of the female, home ground ( handiness of nutrient ) , age and clime. Eggs laid vary between one and two to every bit many as 60, sometimes more, depending on factors mentioned above. Eggs normally have soft leathery shells which require a specific sum of heat and humidness in order to guarantee that hatch. Once the eggs have been laid there is frequently no parental attention with the exclusion of a few species. In South Africa the immature of Python natalensis may remain with the female for several yearss after hatching, go forthing the tunnel by twenty-four hours and returning to the female at dark.

In most reptilians the sex of hatchlings is determined by temperature, for illustration outer eggs ( ice chest ) will be female while the inner eggs ( heater ) within the nest will be male. The eggs normally hatch between one to three months after the female has deposited them. In the instance of some species of chameleons eggs might take up to a twelvemonth to hatch. The immature are equipped with an egg tooth dwelling of a crisp ridge on the tip of the neb which allows the immature to slice open the eggshell therefore liberating itself. The immature that emerges are exact reproduction of the grownups, and the hatchlings of deadly serpents are equipped with to the full functional venom secretory organs and Fangs, and are therefore deadly straight from birth.

Egg mortality is rather high. Reasons for egg mortality scope from predation to unsuitable nest sites chosen. Giving birth to populate immature may be an evolutionary procedure to guarantee the success of a species, cut downing the hazard of egg mortality in peculiarly cold countries where the temperatures wo n’t be equal plenty for incubation.

Movement ( Locomotion & A ; Speed )

The ability to map at velocity and endurance is straight related to the supply and sum of oxygenated blood to the organic structure. Reptiles, unlike mammals and birds, do non have as good supply of oxygenated blood. Directly translated, this means that reptilians tire more easy and are incapable of endurance. Based on these facts it is dubious that the velocity of a serpent would transcend 20km/h which is much slower than the mean human. The two fastest serpent species universe occur in Southern Africa and belongs to the genus Psammophis and Dendroaspis.

There are four basic manners of motive power in serpents:

Sepentine – This is the more familiar method of motive power that most serpents use e.g. the household Elapidae which makes usage of this method. The organic structure undulates from side to side while the back portion of the serpent makes contact with the surface and the remainder of the organic structure is pushed in the way the serpent wants to travel.

Caterpillar – These are normally heavy bodied snakes e.g. Bitis arietans. The serpent progresses in a chiefly consecutive line utilizing its ventral graduated tables to impel it frontward.

Concertina – This is when a portion of the organic structure is anchored whilst forcing frontward. The serpent may ground its caput and so drags the remainder of the organic structure towards the caput. This is frequently seen in arborical species when negociating between smooth braches of trees. Snakes that make usage of this type of motive power normally contain the feature of ridged ventral graduated tables, and include species of the genus Philothamnus.

Sidewinding – This method is most seen in desert species. It is the most effectual method of motive power on loose unstable surfaces such as sand. Merely one or two subdivisions of the organic structure are in contact with the surface at any given clip. A subdivision of the organic structure is thrown sideways and is followed by the following subdivision. This manner of motive power can be seen as a specific adaptation for desert species e.g. Bitis peringueyi, to guarantee that they do n’t acquire burned by the hot desert sand when traveling.


Most people refer to serpents as being moisture or slimy, which is quite the contrary. In fact if you touch a serpent you will detect that it is in fact dry. Scales are aroused tegument that originates from the serpents epidermis. The primary map of graduated tables is to forestall rapid H2O loss, an evolutionary procedure which has allowed serpents to travel onto land. Scales can be smooth or keeled. Some serpents use their graduated tables as a warning mechanism. By rubbing them together this creates a rasping sound that serves as a warning to would be marauders. Dasypeltis scabra is a species of serpent that occur in Southern Africa and which use this specific defensive mechanism to guard of marauders. The North American rattlers rattling is besides an illustration of modified graduated tables that formed through development. Scales besides help in the motive power of serpents.

Scale counts remain one of the chief methods in the designation and categorization between different species of serpents. There are four methods which can be used to right place a species via scale counts:

Head scales – This is done by numbering the upper and lower labials on each side, taking note of which graduated tables are in contact with the oculus. Analyze the nasal graduated tables ( individual, semi-divided or to the full divided ) . Count the figure of preocular and postocular graduated tables and look into whether a loreal shield is present. There should besides be taken note of the agreements of graduated tables that occur on the temples, and the presence of any amalgamate graduated tables. Detect the comparative sizes of internasals, prefrontals, frontal and parietals, and besides note the proportions and form of the rostral graduated tables at the forepart of the olfactory organ.

Dorsal scales – Note whether the graduated tables are smooth or keeled. And one caput length off from caput and in forepart of the cloaca

Subcaudal scales – The first graduated table is the individual or paired graduated table that meets the sidelong graduated tables on both sides. Count back along the tail towards the conelike tip. Note whether graduated tables or anal shields are individual or divided as this forms a important portion of the designation between different households of serpents.

Internal Anatomy of Snakes

A serpents ‘ skull is specifically designed to accommodate their specialized eating wonts. Because a serpent can non masticate its nutrient and must get down it whole it is of import that the serpent be able to open its oral cavity really broad. For this ground the 50 uneven castanetss in the skull are non fused together, alternatively they are slackly connected to each other by ligaments which allows the serpent to bring forth an hypertrophied gape leting it to get down prey much larger than its caput. The construct is similar to an elastic set. Often after a serpent has eaten it will look to yawn, this is done merely to loosen up the ligaments and castanetss t their original form. The construction of a serpent ‘s encephalon is really similar to that of a bird, but unlike birds and mammals serpents lack the hypertrophied intellectual hemispheres. In mammals ( and birds ) the cerebral is the portion of the encephalon, which acts as the acquisition centre of the being. For this ground, although serpents are absolutely adapted to the environment, it is right to state that serpents are non really intelligent. To let serpents to steep such big quarries whole the tummy has to be really strong and elastic leting it to spread out greatly one time prey is engulfed. Powerful digestive juices allow the serpent to digest bone and dentition.

Because a serpent is for the most portion long and cylindrical, the form of the lung must be slightly different in order to suit inside the serpents ‘ organic structure. The right lung is normally the largest and extends for 1/3 of serpents organic structure length. The left lung, in most instances is absent, or really little. Snakes have in consequence merely one lung. During feeding the serpent is able to widen a muscular extension of its trachea ( epiglottis ) from the underside of its oral cavity leting it to take a breath while quarry is being consumed.

Most reptilians have a crude three chambered bosom which is non every bit effectual as the four chambered bosom found in crocodiles ( and mammals ) . In snakes O depleted blood gets pumped into one of the top Chamberss while oxygenated blood gets pumped into the other top chamber, both Chamberss get emptied into the bottom chamber and so circulated through the organic structure. This is the chief ground why serpents tire easy. In proportion to their organic structure size serpents have really big kidneys. The left kidney is situated behind the right kidney in the abdominal part. The map of the kidney is to filtrate the waste merchandises from the blood stream and go through them on to the cloaca for elimination. Unlike mammals which excrete N waste in the signifier of H2O soluble carbamide, snakes excrete these organic structure wastes as crystals which forms a dry white paste which is excreted along with the feaces. This allows reptiles to be highly efficient in their usage of H2O. Mammals have a separate urinary, generative and anal gap. Snakes nevertheless do non. Alternatively they have a common chamber known as the cloaca which performs all these fundamental maps. Waste stuff is stored in the cloaca until eliminated. The claoca opens to the exterior through a cross slit at the base of the tail. It is frequently possible to state the difference in sexes between species by looking at the length from the cloaca to the tip of the tail. The longer the distance between these points would mean the serpent as being male whereas a short distance between these points would bespeak the serpent as being female. The ground behind this is that during reproduction, as mentioned earlier, the male wraps his tail around the females. Some serpents, like the Pythonidae household, have particular secretory organs which besides empty into the cloaca, these secretory organs contain a foul musky aroma which can be ejected when a serpent is threatened, frightened or stressed.


There is no easy depicting venom. Simply put, snake venom is extremely modified spit which is produced by modified saliva secretory organs. Venom is a combination of different enzymes, or proteins, that act on other chemicals and proteins therefore changing them or merely interrupting them down. Many of these proteins are harmless, but some are toxins. The make-up of these toxins varies widely from species to species. Snakes venom can hence be best described as a cocktail of 100s of different proteins and enzymes, this complexness entirely accounts for widely differing effects of snakebite. In kernel venom affects the protein and chemicals of the immune system and the blood, transported through the organic structure via the lymphatic system. The venom secretory organs are situated in the skull somewhat behind the eyes.

In order for venom to be effectual it has to be injected into the circulatory system. It is hence rather safe for a normal healthy individual to imbibe venom without any effects. Venom can non be compared to toxicant, and are wholly different entities.

Venom has to be injected ( circulative system )

Poison has to be ingested ( swallowed )

The maps of venom are legion:

Prevents the putrification of prey anterior to consumption.

Immobilizes quarry therefore forestalling the serpent from being injured.

Digestive belongingss within the venom get down the digestive procedure prior to consumption.

Snake venom is besides antibacterial, antiviral, fungicidal and antiprotozoal which protects the serpent from microbic diseases which it may contract from quarry.

As a last resort, ego defence when the serpent is threatened.

There are three types of serpent venom:

Neurotoxic – nervus moving venom ( Elapidae ) .

Cytotoxic – cel destructing venom ( Viperidae. )

Haemotoxic – blood moving venom ( Colubridae ) .

Fangs ( Dentition )

All serpents have teeth, but non all serpents have Fangs. Most serpents have teeth on the upper and lower jaws. Exceptions are blind serpents which lack dentitions on the lower jaw and no dentition on the upper jaw as opposed to opposed to writhe serpents which have teeth on the upper jaws but no dentition on the lower jaws. Fangs are modified dentitions used to present venom. All serpents that have venom secretory organs possess Fangs whilst non – deadly serpents have no Fangs. Deadly serpents possess both dentitions and Fangs ( located on the upper jaw ) , whilst non – deadly serpents possess merely dentitions, some are greatly reduced and serve no intent as in the common egg – feeder ( Dasypeltis scabra ) . Fangs and dentitions are replaced at intervals throughout the serpents ‘ life. Deadly serpents can be divided into separate groups depending on the location of their Fangs. There are three distinguishable groups of Fangs ( front hinged Fangs, Front fixed serpents and back fanged serpents ) .

Snakes can be classified into 4 groups depending on their teething ( teeth ) :

Aglyphs: The word “ gluphe ” is derived from Greek, intending grooved or carved. So aglyph agencies without grooved or carved Fangs. Snakes belonging to this group therefore do non hold the grooved Fangs necessary to transport venom. These are non – deadly serpents. Examples of aglyphs include Python natalensis, Pseudaspis cana and Meizodon semiornatus.

Opistoglyph: “ Ophisto ” means buttocks. This group consists of the rear or back fanged serpents with grooved Fangs to transport venom. These are largely serpents that are contained within the household Colubridae. Dispholidus typus and Thelothornis capensis are illustrations of serpents which occur within this household of serpents. Like Elapids these serpents are besides long and slender. Their Fangs are the smallest of the deadly serpents and are situated on the upper jaw at the dorsum of the oral cavity about merely below the oculus hence forth the name back fanged.

Proterioglyphs: “ Proteros ” means former or forepart. This group consists of the fixed forepart fanged serpents. These belong to the household Elapidae. This household chiefly subsists of species such as Dendroaspis polylepis, Naja mossambica and Aspidelaps lubricus, which are by and large long and slender. Fangs are little and situated in the forepart of the oral cavity on the upper jaw. All Elapids to some extent spread a goon, but non all every bit typical as cobras, another characteristic is that they all contain the feature of smooth graduated tables. All members of the household Elapidae have Fangs and are deadly.

Solenoglyphs: “ Soleno ” significance pipe or sheathed. This group consists of the forepart hinged Fangs which are sheathed and folded back into the oral cavity. These serpents have by and large the longest Fangs amongst serpents. These serpents belong to the Viperidae ( adders and vipers ) household. Most adders are short and apparently compact. All have big erectile Fangs situated in the forepart of the oral cavity on the upper jaw. When non in usage the Fangs fold back within their sheaths against the roof of the oral cavity. Another separating factor of the household Viperidae is that they are all deadly and have keeled graduated tables. Examples of Viperidae include Bitis xeropaga, Bitis Atropos and Bitis inornata.


Snakes are without a uncertainty one of the most misunderstood species of animate beings that inhabits the planet. They are by and large linked to the stigma of being the root of all evil and is normally killed by people that is to ignorant to acknowledge their importance as ecological indexs. Snakes act as of import bio-indicators as mentioned antecedently, playing an huge function in commanding rodent populations and other little mammals which might hold negative effects on agricultural. In certain countries where there occurs an absence of serpents one would normally happen fewer gnawers, as the serpents maintain them at bay through predation, carry throughing the function of being their chief beginning of nutrient. Thus husbandmans can merely profit from the presence of serpents in their barns, sheds Fieldss etc. The presence of serpents in countries can be seen in a positive visible radiation, for they cut down the harm caused by gnawers to harvests and tools that are used for the execution of a successful concern dramatically. With great grasp to snakes I can reason that they are non merely merely a mark of a healthy ecosystem, but besides serves an of import function in the economic system of any land by forestalling the loss of 1000000s of rands that might happen as a consequence of a gnawer pestilence.



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