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.