Kenyan Sand Boa
Eryx colubrinus loveridgei
Reptiles Alive Name: “Tremors”
Hissstory: A friend of Caroline’s donated Tremors to Reptiles Alive in March of 1997.
Natural Diet: Sand boas eat small mammals and lizards. When food is scarce, sand boas may live over a year without any food at all.
Range: Kenyan sand boas are found in Northeast Africa.
Habitat: Sand boas are found in hot, dry deserts.
Size: Sand boas are some of the smallest boa species on Earth. They typically grow only 1-2 feet long.
Reproduction: Sand boas give live birth to 7-10 young after a gestation period of about four months.
Lifespan: Sand boas can live over 15 years. Tremors was born in 1997 – and he is still in great shape!
Cool Facts: The eyes and nostrils of the sand boa are on the top of the head so they can breath and search the surface for prey while the rest of their body lies hidden beneath the sand.
Giant Madagascar Hognose Snake
Reptiles Alive Name: “Mr. Leo Heterodon”
Hissstory: Mr. Leo was a pet in Chincoteague, VA until his owner did not want him anymore. He was sent to a reptile rescue group in western Virginia where, in 2002, we adopted him.
RA Diet: Mr. Leo loves to dine on frozen and then defrosted medium to large sized rats. Delicioussssssssssss!
Natural Diet: Madagascar hognose snakes in the wild will eat small mammals, amphibians, and possibly small birds.
Habitat: Madagascar hognose snakes are found in mountain forests at low altitudes, coastal areas, and grasslands often near water and human habitation. They spend most of their time hiding in shallow burrows or rocky crevices.
Size: Madagascar hognose snakes can grow over 5 feet long and are very heavy-bodied.
Life Span: Madagascar hognose snakes can live over 20 years.
Reproduction: The females snakes lay 6-12 eggs. The young hatch in 60-80 days and are about 12 inches long.
Conservation: Habitat loss is a major threat to most animals found in Madagascar.
Cool Facts: Giant Madagascar hognose snakes are opistoglyphous, which means they have fangs in the back of their mouth. Their mild venom is not dangerous to humans, but it helps them catch their prey. When Madagascar hognose snakes are threatened, they hiss loudly and can flatten their neck – like a cobra!
At Reptiles Alive LLC, we spend our days educating people about snakes and other reptiles. Here some super snake facts we with everybody knew.
1. Snakes are SHY animals that will not chase or attack people.
Wild snakes are truly afraid of humans. Even large snakes, even venomous snakes, if left alone, will leave people alone. Snakes in the wild are never aggressive towards people, but they become defensive when they feel bothered or threatened by larger animals. If you encounter a snake in the wild, leave it alone, and it will leave you alone.
2. Snakes have DRY skin.
Snakes, like all other reptiles, have scales made of keratin covering their body. Keratin is a type of protein that makes up people’s hair and finger nails. Bird feathers are made of keratin. Just like birds and people, snakes are NOT SLIMY. If snakes go swimming, they will get wet (like you do), but they are never slimy. Slugs, eels, and many frogs are slimy – their skin is covered in a layer of mucous.
3. Snakes have a brain and can FEEL pain and fear.
If a snake is injured, it feels the pain of the injury. When snakes in the wild are cornered or pursued by larger animals, (including humans), they feel fear which causes them to react with a variety of defensive strategies. Although snakes may not be able to learn how to do math or drive cars, their brain operates in a similar way to your brain, just on a smaller scale.
4. Snakes have a skeleton made of BONES.
Just like people, snakes are VERTEBRATE animals. They have back bones, ribs, skulls, and some snakes even have hip bones. Like people, snakes also have a heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, and other internal organs. On the inside, snakes and people are very similar.
5. Many snakes with triangle-shaped heads and patterns on their body are non-venomous.
If you are in the Washington DC metro area, there is only one native venomous species: the copperhead. You are far more likely to encounter one of the other 17 or so non-venomous snake species, yet, nearly all snakes in our area have been labeled “copperheads” due to their head shape, colors, or pattern. Nearly any species of snake, including a garter snake, will flatten its head into a “triangle-shape” when threatened (like when it sees YOU.) Nearly all species of snakes in our area have a pattern on their body at some point in their life (rat snakes and racers start life with a pattern that slowly fades to black as they get older.) If you see a snake, whether you think it is a copperhead, or not, just leave the snake alone. If you leave the snake alone, it will leave you alone.
Photo courtesy of John White and the Virginia Herpetological Society
Snakes are fascinating creatures that are often misunderstood and feared by people. One of our goals at Reptiles Alive LLC is to help people and snakes by teaching the facts about these awesome animals.