Can you explain the behavior of this snake?

Can you explain the behavior of this snake?

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I just saw this video in which a snake is swallowing grapes. ("Whip snake eating grapes"). In the video, the snake just doesn't eat but goes on to swallow 2-3 grapes. I did some research on the internet and in "bio This Site" but only to find that "snakes are obligate carnivores", which simply means they don't have the body mechanism to digest a vegetarian diet. My guess is that it mistook the grapes for a prey due to the smell coming from the grapes, which may be left there by a rodent or any other organism the snake feeds on. Can you provide a possible explanation for this snake's behavior? Regards

You're right, snakes rely on scent to capture their prey. The fact that snakes are carnivores may be the one constant among all snake species; absolutely none feed even partially on plant matter. So if plant matter is found in their feces, it must have gotten there accidentally.

Here, check out this post, which answers your question perfectly:

In most instances, these have been attributed to accidental ingestion, perhaps eaten with a prey item or mistaken for prey by scent… One interesting case was discovered by Harvey Lillywhite in a study published in the journal BioScience in 2008. Studying the scavenging behavior of pitvipers in the intertidal zone, Lillywhite observed cottomouth droppings that were composed almost entirely of seaweed. This was too much plant material to have been eaten secondarily or by accident, and he suspected that there was some other cause for the snakes to be eating it (it certainly wasn't for energy as the seaweed was passing through completely undigested. Lillywhite wondered if it was possible the snakes were feeding on seaweed simply because it smelled like fish. An interesting laboratory experiment proved their hypothesis correct; they offered various plants to cottonmouths, some with fish and others without. The plants without fish were investigated by the snakes, but ultimately left uneaten. Those that did contain fish were quickly devoured. Even when the fish was removed, the snakes ate the remaining seaweed simply because it smelled like their prey!

I've seen a deer eating a live bird so a snake eating grapes doesn't surprise me. My philosophy is that animals know better than us what they are doing, so if someone is mistaking it's probably us.

Anyway, my answer would be that this snake needs a substance (perhaps the acid since it's unrip) contained in those grapes, if it's not for feeding then it's for healing.

Python Facts

Pythons are nonvenomous snakes found in Asia, Africa and Australia. Because they are not native to North or South America, they are considered Old World snakes. The word python can refer to both the family Pythonidae or the genus Python, found within Pythonidae.

There are 41 species of python found within the family Pythonidae, according to the Reptile Database. Though both pythons and boas are large constrictors, they are separate families.

This is not a reference to our behavior (although, of course, some people do act like animals). It is a reference to the fact that humans are biological creatures, as much as crocodiles, cougars, and capybara. We are the product of millions of years of evolution, our physical make-up changing to make us fitter to survive and reproduce.

However, although humans are animals, we also have something that no other animal has: the most complex social structure on Earth. We gather in families, tribes, clans, nations. We have an incredibly sophisticated method of interacting -- speech. We can communicate over time and distance through printing and broadcasting. Our memories are the longest, our interactions the most intricate, our perception of the world simultaneously the broadest and most detailed.

The combination of biology and society is what makes us what we are and do what we do. Biology guides our responses to stimuli, based on thousands of generations of ancestors surviving because of their responses. Our social structures dictate restrictions on and alterations in how we carry out our biological responses.

Neither biology nor society stands without the other. For some people, this is a contradiction -- either nature (biology) controls people, or nurture (society) does. But in fact we filter everything through both to determine how we react to stimuli. The following is a discussion of the two sides of human nature: first, the biological basis of our responses to the world around us, and second, the social factors that affect those responses and make us human.


The three main elements biology contributes to human behavior are: 1) self-preservation 2) the reason for self-preservation, reproduction and 3) a method to enhance self-preservation and reproduction, greed. I will discuss each in turn.

Self-preservation is keeping yourself alive, either physically or psychologically. The latter includes mentally or economically healthy. (Since human beings are very social creatures, we may also apply self-preservation to other people, such as our families. However, I will discuss that in the next chapter.)


A lioness slowly, stealthily, works through the tall grass toward the herd of wildebeest. A doe, unaware of the danger lurking in the grass, separates slightly from the herd. With a rush, the lioness bursts into a run to take down the doe. The startled doe bounds away, running and swerving, trying to escape. The lioness, unable to keep up the pace, gives up, and the doe escapes back into the herd.

A zebra is not so lucky, and the pride feasts.

The Donner Party was a group of settlers trekking to California in 1846. Trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains , they survived as best they could. This included resorting to cannibalism when they ran out of food, eating the bodies of those who had died.

To be successful as a species, the members of that species must have a desire to survive long enough to pass on their genes to offspring. A species with a death-wish dies out rather quickly. Those species that don't die out have members that have devoted some attention to staying alive long enough to have young. It is from those individuals and therefore species that all living things are descended.

The desire to stay alive is an instinctive one, built into the psyche of the organism. The organism will seek those elements of its environment that will enhance its chances for survival. These include food, water, oxygen, and periods of rest to allow the body to repair any wear and tear on the tissues.

Alternately, it will avoid or evade those elements that might reduce its chances for survival. Such dangers include predators, starvation, dehydration, asphyxiation, and situations that can cause damage to the body.

These seek or avoid drives influence the behavior of organisms: iron seeking bacteria will move toward magnetism, gnus will migrate hundreds of miles to find new pastures, a human will resort to cannibalism an amoeba will flow away from an electric current, an antelope will run from a lion, a human will obey a killer or withstand torture.

The desire to stay alive is also a selfish instinct, since it is personal survival that the organism is seeking. The reason for that is explained under REPRODUCTION.

Survival Through Evolution

A phrase that has often been misquoted, "Survival of the Fittest," actually means survival of the fit. By fit, I mean an organism has those attributes that allow it to get the most out of its environment: gather food, drink, oxygen, rest, sex. The better it is at doing this, the more fit it is.

At this point I should discuss the niche. A niche is a position within an environment that calls for certain attributes to exploit that environment. An environment can contain any of a variety of elements: amount of water, from ocean to desert type of land, from marsh mud to solid rock amount of vegetation, from none (the Arctic and Antarctic) to abundant (rainforests). It can also contain animal life, from the tiniest insects to blue whales and everything in between. It is the combination and degree of each of these elements that create niches.

As an example, let's look at just one of these elements. Say there are many small animals, like mice, in an area. A small carnivore like a wildcat could find a lot of food. Thus, it would fit into this niche and thrive. However, when the number of mice decreases, the wildcat can find less food, and has a lesser chance of survival.

If the wildcat has competition from other small carnivores, like foxes, the one that is particularly good as a predator, through cunning or speed or some other attribute, will catch more food. This lessens the amount of food available for the competition, and thus drives the competition out. If the fox is better at catching mice (that is, more fit) than the wildcat, the wildcat will either die or have to move to another niche in which it will be the better predator.

On the other hand, if there are no small animals but many big animals, like antelope, neither a fox nor a wildcat would have much success preying on them. Thus, they wouldn't fit in such a niche. However, large carnivores such as lions would.

Of course, nothing stays the same forever. Niches alter through geologic, climatic and, in the present day, man-made changes in land, water and air. A volcano can create a new island. An ice age can lock up huge quantities of water in ice caps and glaciers, creating areas of land where oceans once rolled. Continental drift can push seabeds to the tops of mountains. Humans can chop down forests and build cities. All these changes alter the niches, the environmental conditions under which the life in those niches live.

Of course, this means the life has to change as well, to match the new conditions. If it doesn't, it dies. An example is a moth in England . It was originally a mottled white, which allowed it to blend into the light bark of the trees in its area. However, in the 19th century factories in this area began to belch out soot from their chimneys that settled on the trees, changing the tree bark from mottled white to mottled black. The moth could no longer blend in and thus was easy prey to birds. However, some of the moths were darker and thus less noticeable. After a few generations of these darker moths surviving and passing on their genes, the standard color changed to mottled black, and the moth, now blending into the dark bark, survives.

Note that such changes are not conscious decisions made by the organism: the moth did not say to itself, "The bark is getting dark--I'd better change color, too." It is simply that there are variations between individuals in any species (an advantage of sexual reproduction and its combining of genes). Some of those variations are detrimental: the dark moth variations were easy prey when the tree bark was light. However, as the conditions in a niche change, those same variations can become advantageous, enhancing rather than weakening chances for survival.

Such changes in an organism's physical characteristics are, of course, accidental. If no variations exist in a species that contribute to survival when conditions change, or if conditions change too quickly for advantageous variations to be passed on to enough descendants,(1) the species can die out.

Survival Through Strategy

Other changes in an organism can develop over time. These are survival strategies, rather than physical changes, that improve the organism's chances for survival. For example, some animals have perfected the technique of hibernating during periods when the food supply is low. Marmots have developed a social structure that provides lookouts who watch for predators and sound a warning when one appears. Prairie dogs dig their burrows with multiple entrances and exits so if a predator comes in one door, the dogs can leave through another.

These survival strategies are adaptations to niche conditions, but unlike physical changes are not necessarily genetic changes. Such strategies as hibernation, of course, require genes that alter the animal's physiology to slow heartbeat, lower body temperature, and otherwise decrease its metabolism. Others are instinctive, hardwired genetically into the animal's brain, such as a fawn's curling up and freezing when predators are about.

However, some survival strategies are learned behaviors. That is, the young learn them from older animals that learned them from their ancestors. For example, most predators teach their young the techniques of successful hunting. In general, it appears the higher the complexity of the nervous system of the animal, the more likely strategies are learned rather than instinctive. Sharks, with a relatively simple nervous system, hunt by instinct and need no instruction on how to go about it. Lions, with a complex system, must learn the techniques of stealth, stalk, and attack.

Again, in most animals, the strategies are not conscious decisions, but responses to stimuli such as hunger, thirst, asphyxiation, fear, or exhaustion. If conditions change so the instinctive strategy is dangerous rather than beneficial, the animal can die. For example, the fawn's freeze response to fear would be deadly if there was no cover to hide in while frozen. The musk ox strategy is to form a stationary circle with the young in the center and the older members facing outward, rather than running away. This is excellent against wolves, but deadly when faced with spears and guns (perfect, however, for the human survival strategy of group hunting with weapons). The musk ox cannot consciously decide that this strategy isn't working and that they must try another.

The combination of genetic and learned responses to stimuli creates an animal's reaction to stimuli. For example, the genetically dictated instinctive reaction to a threat to self-preservation is the "fight or flight" syndrome. When threatened, an animal undergoes several physiological changes that have become genetically hardwired into the animal's body. The changes include an increased rate of respiration to provide more oxygen to the muscles, an accelerated heart beat to speed up the blood flow, a lessening in sensitivity to pain, and changes in the blood stream, including an injection of adrenalin and diversion away from the organs to the muscles. These physiological changes prepare the animal to either fight for survival or run away from danger.

However, learned responses can mitigate the instinctive, depending on the complexity of the animal's nervous system. That complexity increases an animal's options in reacting to stimuli. For example, an amoeba will avoid an electric field automatically -- an instinctive reaction unmitigated by a survival strategy. A starving rat, however, will run across an electrified grid that gives it painful shocks if there is food on the other side. It can learn a survival strategy -- the shocks, though causing the instinctive fight-or-flight physiological changes, aren't going to kill it. Starvation will.


All the above applies to humans as much as any other animal: humans desire personal survival seek food, drink, rest, sex fit into niches must adapt to changing conditions.

Humans are subject to the same stimuli and reactions as any other animal. Hunger, thirst, asphyxiation, fear, and exhaustion are physical sensations that cause instinctive physical reactions. Most of these reactions are unpleasant, and people avoid the stimuli that cause them, or, if they're unavoidable, take actions to reduce them. Thus you eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, fight for air, run from dangerous situations, sleep. In any case, the reactions are good in that they tell you you're in a situation that could result in injury or death. These responses are instinctive, and we have no more control over them than we do over our eye color.

Actually, we do have control over our eye color. The reason we do is why our approach to self-preservation is different from all other creatures. We have a brain that is capable of perceiving and solving problems. We change our eye color with contact lenses. We react to a threatening situation through applying our brains to the problem and finding a solution to it.

The difference between humans and other animals is that, unlike any other animal (as far as we know), we can and do consciously respond or alter our response to a stimulus. The greatest example lies in the existence of amusement parks, where people deliberately subject themselves to stimuli that any other creature on earth would go to great lengths to avoid. Imagine, if you can, the reaction of a dog to a roller coaster. If it didn't leap out at the first movement, it would cringe in bottom of the car until it probably had a heart attack. Yet, humans go on such rides for fun, our minds accepting that the ride is safe, and thus control the terror such a thing would cause in any other creature.

Indeed, the physical manifestations of the stress of the workplace, such as ulcers, headaches, nervous breakdowns, is often considered a result of the fight or flight syndrome at work on the body, while the mind is required to remain under stimuli that no other creature would willing accept. For example, being bawled out by your boss would, in another animal, cause a fight or the chastised to run. Humans, though, stand, listen, nod their heads, say "yes, I understand" and go back to work (probably muttering uncomplimentary comments about the boss under their breath).

Even more, humans can alter rather than merely adapt to the environments in which we find ourselves to enhance our chances for survival. The invention of agriculture and the domestication of animals improved the food supply the building of dwellings enhanced shelter from the elements science and medicine have greatly increased human lifespan and the quality of that life. Human ingenuity has altered every aspect of the world to enhance the human life.(2)

However, humans live in an extremely complex society. Thus, self-preservation is a much more complicated proposition than among other animals. Eating to satisfy hunger is more than just finding proper vegetation or hunting shelter for rest and recuperation is more than finding a convenient cave or nest avoiding predators is difficult because it is often hard if not impossible to tell what is a predator (the only real predators on humans are other humans). Even avoiding dangerous situations (such as car crashes) is difficult because of human technology. Things can happen so quickly danger isn't apparent until it's too late to do anything about it.

To deal with the complexity, human society has become, to a large extent, an economic one. That is, the connections between unrelated people is often based on distribution of resources (related people connect more through personal attachment). I will discuss these social factors in human self-preservation in the next chapter.

The above quote is from the popular movie, WALL STREET , starring Michael Douglas. When it was spoken in the movie, it was used as an ironic counterpoint: the character who said it was very successful following the credo, but ultimately it was his downfall. The audience may have though it was poetic justice. The credo, however, is merely a statement of biological necessity.

Greed has an extremely negative connotation for most people. It conjures up images of Ebenezer Scrooge and Shylock, chortling over their gold and ignoring the plights and miseries of others. However, it is actually the gathering of resources, the more the better. Biologically, for any organism that is successful greed is good.

Any form of life must gather resources that allow it to survive and reproduce. The resources may be food, water, sunlight, minerals, vitamins, shelter. Without these things, the organism dies. Since the two most basic purposes of life are to live and to reproduce, it should do everything it can to avoid dying through a lack of resources.

Greed is one organism getting a larger piece of the pie, more of the necessary resources, than other organisms. For example, in the Amazonian rain forest, an occasional tree dies and falls. This leaves an opening to the sun in the continuous canopy of foliage. Plants and trees race each other to grow into that opening. The winners in the race fill the hole the losers die through lack of sunlight. (Attenborough, 1990) The greed for sunlight means life.

Again, as for self-preservation and sex, greed is an instinctive reaction. When presented with resources, the instinct is to grab them, use them, take advantage of them. This isn't a conscious decision. An animal, when starving, wants more food when thirsty, more water. If it means taking it from another animal, that's what it does if it can.

You may ask, what about those animals who feed their offspring, though they're starving themselves? Remember that the second purpose of life is to reproduce. This requires not only producing the young. Once it's born it must be kept alive until it's self-sufficient. If it dies, then all the time, effort and energy to produce it must be repeated to produce another one. However, once it reaches self-sufficiency the parent's genes will, most likely, be passed on to another generation. Keeping the offspring alive, even at the expense of the parent dying, is of paramount importance. Thus, a parent caring for its young at its own expense is not an act of selflessness it's an act of genetic selfishness.

You may also point out that humans avoid being greedy. In fact, being greedy is something that is scorned, something to be ashamed of. Once again, as for self-preservation and reproduction, it's because humans are unique -- we have a conscious mind that influences their biological instincts. How that works is the topic of the next chapter.


1There is a theory of critical mass, that the gene pool for a species must be large enough (that is, the breeding population must be large enough) to provide enough variations to counter adverse conditions or events. For example, the African cheetah population appears to be descended from only a few individuals apparently most of the species fell prey to a disease that only a few survived because of a genetic immunity. Those few represented a gene pool too small to provide much in the way of variation, and there is a fear that something, perhaps another disease to which the current population has no genetic immunity, will kill off the remaining cheetahs.

2 Of course, we can also argue that this same ingenuity has enhanced human life to the point that human life, and all other life on earth, is threatened. The human ability to alter the environment to help people survive has allowed so many people to survive that the Earth itself, which is need to support them, many not survive.

Snake Reproduction

The mating process for the snake can take many different forms based on the species and the location. However, the standard practices include a male and female who are mature finding each other. Those that live in colder areas will only mate in the late spring and the early summer. For those that live in tropical areas the mating can take place all year long.
The temperatures along with the availability of food can determine if they will mate or not.

The males will become more aggressive around the time for mating. They will fight with each other so that they are able to get the attention of the female. She has the final decision on who will be able to mate with her and who has to keep on moving along. He won’t give up until he knows for sure there is no chance of it occurring.

Since males and females can look so much alike, the males usually don’t even have a chance to really avoid each other. They will have to get very close in order to find out if he has found another male or a female that he may be able to mate with. This can vary though by species but overall such behaviors are a part of the mating process for snakes.

Once mating has occurred the male and the female will go their separate way. They don’t say in contact. The female can become very hostile if mating is over and the male is still around. He will typically be in a hurry though to go look for other females in the area. However, when the male is mating for the first time he may become very exhausted. This is why he may want to stay around the female – he simply is too tired to venture further away from her.

Once mating has occurred the female will lay eggs. This can take place soon after mating for some species. With others though the eggs will stay in her body for a long period of time. Then they will emerge right before the young are ready to come out of them.

Little pythons emerging from the egg

She will place them in a nest or burrow to offer them a save place. Most species will leave those eggs and that is the end of it. Some species though will linger around the area to protect them. She will leave though as soon as the eggs emerge. There are a few species including boas and rattlesnakes that give birth to live young (viviparous).

She may mate again with a male. The other option is that she may have sperm in her body that was left over that she can use again.

Those that are born from eggs have sharp teeth and they will use it to break the egg from the inside out. Mating may occur annually for some species but there are those that will only do so once very three years.

All young have to care for themselves from the instant they are born. They are very vulnerable to a verity of predators including birds, fox, and lizards. There is a high mortality rate in the wild for young snakes. They look very much like their adult parents at birth but they are just smaller.

Can you explain the behavior of this snake? - Biology

Natural selection at work

Scientists have worked out many examples of natural selection, one of the basic mechanisms of evolution.

Any coffee table book about natural history will overwhelm you with full-page glossies depicting amazing adaptations produced by natural selection, such as the examples below.

Orchids fool wasps into "mating" with them. Katydids have camouflage to look like leaves. Non-venomous king snakes mimic venomous coral snakes.

Behavior can also be shaped by natural selection. Behaviors such as birds' mating rituals, bees' wiggle dance, and humans' capacity to learn language also have genetic components and are subject to natural selection. The male blue-footed booby, shown to the right, exaggerates his foot movements to attract a mate.

In some cases, we can directly observe natural selection. Very convincing data show that the shape of finches' beaks on the Galapagos Islands has tracked weather patterns: after droughts, the finch population has deeper, stronger beaks that let them eat tougher seeds.

In other cases, human activity has led to environmental changes that have caused populations to evolve through natural selection. A striking example is that of the population of dark moths in the 19th century in England, which rose and fell in parallel to industrial pollution. These changes can often be observed and documented.


Baker, Earnest. 1950. The Politics of Aristotle. London: Oxford University Press.

Darwin, Charles. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray.

Dubner, Stephen J., and Steven D. Levitt. 2005. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York: HarperCollins.

Gobineau, Joseph-Arthur de. [1853] 1970. Essay on the Inequality of Human Races. In Father of Racist Ideology: The Social and Political Thought of Count Gobineau, ed. Michael D. Biddiss, p. 113. New York: Weybright and Talley.

Gould, Stephen Jay. 1996. The Mismeasure of Man. Rev. ed. New York: Norton.

Graves, Joseph L., Jr. 2005. The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. New York: Plume.

Herrnstein, Richard J., and Charles Murray. 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. New York: Free Press.

Montagu, Ashley, ed. 1964. The Concept of Race. London: Collier.

Tucker, William H. 1994. The Science and Politics of Racial Research. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Black Rat Snake Information & Facts

Black Rat Snake Biology: In general, black rat snakes are a medium-sized snake. Their average length is between 40 to 70 inches. The widest point of the snake’s body is usually near the tail section and the snake has an average diameter of around two inches. This length and width makes black rat snakes have a powerful and sleek body that is able to move fluidly horizontally on the ground, as well as vertically in trees. The snake is covered with black keeled scales. It's a black snake – one of the only species with such an opaque color – with a slightly white chin.

The rat snake species all share similar characteristics and much of their habitat is identical. However, each sub-species, including the black rat snake, have their differences. The black rat snake, for example, likes to live in high-altitude regions and tend to find homes in rocky areas however, certain black snakes, like those from more northern regions, are found to live in flat farmlands. Ultimately, the black rat snake is a very adaptable species that can live in a variety of environments.

Behavior: Rat snakes are very timid creatures which try to avoid confrontation. Often, they will lie in what is called the 'kink' position. The 'kink' position involves the snake remaining motionless with its body in a slight s-curve. This position is supposed to imitate the look of a fallen branch and, thus, avoid any attacks from unsuspecting predators. Adult black snakes have been known to be more aggressive than young rat snakes. They will rattle their tails to simulate a rattlesnake and will strike if provoked far enough.

A black rat snakes best defense is its last resort 'smell release'. When in serious danger, like being attacked by a dangerous predator, the snake will release a foul smelling musk-like smell. The smell is supposed to imitate what a poison-like smell would taste like – on most occasions, this isn't a very effective technique. Region also has an effect on the behavior of a black rat snake. For example, Texas rat snakes are much more snappy and aggressive.

Diet: Black rat snakes normally eat any kind of rodent that is smaller than they are. This usually consists of small lizards, baby mice and small frogs. Older and larger black rat snakes will eat larger rodents, as well as consume other kinds of mammals. This may include chipmunks, moles and a large variety of mice and rats. Sometimes, a black rat snake, if desperate, will eat bird eggs.

To eat their food, rat snakes use the constriction technique. This involves them waiting patiently before a prey is unsuspecting then they will strike, first biting the prey and then moving in and strangling them. The constriction process usually takes some time then, afterwards, the snake will consume the prey in a single bite. Digestion is very slow, sometimes taking days for food to be fully digested. Adult snakes will only eat once or twice a month, while young snakes will eat weekly.

Reproduction: Black rat snakes will mate once a year. The mating process is similar in all species of snakes. It involves both the males and females releasing a unique smell around mating time which causes both parties to become prepared for the process. When mating occurs, males will often mate with multiple females. The female will remain pregnant for up to the three months and can give birth to as little as 3 snakes and as much as 80 snakes.

At birth the snake is independent from the mother. In fact, in some cases, if there is a food shortage, the mother may eat its offspring. Depending on the region, as well as the amount of snakes born, many snakes will die within the first few weeks. This is due to a few reasons such as there not being enough food, to the environment not being completely suitable.

Below are some other species of snake that may look like a Black Rat Snake:
Cottonmouth Snake
Water Moccasin
Northern Water Snake
Black Racer

Many people want to know how to kill a Black Rat Snake, but you don't need to. The best way to get rid of Black Rat Snakes is to simply leave them alone. You can also use a Black Rat Snake trap to catch them - that's one of the best ways for how to remove Black Rat Snake. For more information, go to my Snake Removal - How to Get Rid of Snakes home page.

Snake Reproduction Cycle

Snakes don’t have reproductive organs. From the outside, snakes don’t display sexual dimorphism (the visual differences between the sexes.)

In snakes, you can’t tell the difference between male and female snakes externally. How does a snake that’s looking to mate tell the differences between male and female snakes?

According to the journal Behaviour, there is a combination of pheromones that a snake detects when he discovers a female snake of the same species.

A male snake presses his chin onto the female’s back. He then runs up along her back, all the way to her head. In doing so, he picks up the pheromones that tell him that the snake is female.

What Are the Differences Between Male and Female Snakes?

Male snakes have two organs called hemipenes. These are like the snake’s penis. It has two, which are kept inside the cloaca.

They’re held in place by the retractor muscle. When reproduction occurs, the two hemipenes are ‘everted,’ which means that they pop out of the cloaca. They also have testes inside their bodies, near their other organs.

The female snake has a cloaca. However, female snakes have ovaries that produce eggs, which males don’t have. They also have an oviduct, which is where the reproductive eggs develop into the eggs that she lays.

In many species of snakes, the female is larger than the male. According to the Proceedings of the Royal Society, different reproductive roles favor different sized body components. Here are the key differences:

  • Females: The organ systems that store energy are enlarged. This includes the digestive tract, the liver, and places where they store fat in their body. These stores give them the additional energy that’s needed when they have to develop their eggs.
  • Males: They have enlarged skeletal muscles, larger tails, and better functioning kidneys. The scientists suggested that this would assist them when searching for a mate, when fighting with other females, and in creating healthier sperm.

The scientists dissected 243 specimens from three species, including two colubrids and a viper.

What Is The Purpose of the Cloaca in Snakes?

The cloaca is the part of a snake’s anatomy that is used for both excretion and mating. It’s an essential part of a snake’s basic anatomy.

According to ResearchGate, the cloaca is made up of 3 distinct parts:

Coprodeum:This part collects feces from the colon. It is the first, and largest, section of the cloaca.
Urodeum:This part collects urine and any products of reproduction.
Proctodeum:This part excretes any waste.

The female cloaca is shallow compared to the male’s, which is longer and extends further down the tail. This is because the male’s cloaca contains the two hemipenes.

These have to be contained inside, or they would drag along the floor behind the snake which would damage them. All mating in snakes is done using the cloaca and hemipenes.

When is Snake Mating Season?

Snakes emerge from hibernation in the spring, which is when mating begins. Snakes in northern, colder climates go into full hibernation.

This is an extended period of almost complete sleep. Snakes in the south will only go through brumation. Once a snake emerges from hibernation or brumation in the Sprint, the snakes will start mating.

The reason for this timing is that snakes are ectotherms. That means that they can’t produce body heat because they’re cold-blooded.

If a female snake was to lay eggs at the wrong time of year, both she and her clutch would have great difficulty staying warm.

How Do Snakes Attract Mates?

Snakes attract mates using pheromones. Females produce estrogen, and it plays a significant role in attracting males.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that boosting a male snake’s estrogen led to new pheromones.

These pheromones were the same as produced by a female snake. This really confused the garter snakes in the study, so that they would start trying to mate with the male.

Garter snakes rely on pheromones to facilitate mating. The male must lick the female to determine which pheromones and chemicals they give off.

They use a sixth sense, called the vomeronasal system, that’s focused on identifying specific pheromones. A snake can find out the species, sex, reproductive condition, size, and age of their ‘potential’ partner.

Do Snakes Mate for Life?

Male snakes are attracted to the most viable female based on her pheromones. The female that creates the best-smelling pheromones is probably the healthiest, so that’s the one that he’ll opt for.

Once the two snakes have mated, the male doesn’t usually stay with the female or care for his young. They go on to find other females, but there are exceptions to every rule.

According to the Royal Society, males of some species protect the female they’ve mated with to stop them from mating with any other snakes.

Not only that, but females that have already mated become less attractive to males, at least a Springer study on red-sided garter snakes.

There’s also another aspect to mating that prevents the snake from having multiple mates that have nothing to do with loyalty and love. Male snakes can produce what is called ‘mating plugs.’

Once the male has mated with the female, he can produce a gelatinous plug. The mating plug blocks up the female’s cloaca and stops any other males from being able to mate with her in that breeding season.

How Do Snakes Get Pregnant?

So, how does a snake fertilize an egg? Snakes mate by aligning themselves with one another, the male moving up along the female’s body.

He then inserts one of his hemipenes into the female’s cloaca. This is called the cloacal kiss because the two cloacae come into contact.

Most snakes’ hemipenes have ridges and spikes that perfectly fit the female cloaca to avoid slipping or otherwise moving away.

This aids in reproduction, but also prevents interbreeding between different species of snake. It takes quite a while for snakes to mate, usually between an hour and a whole day.

Sperm in snakes is produced in the testes. These are located inside the body cavity, near the stomach and liver.

The sperm travels along a duct, through a ridge in the hemipenis and into the female’s cloaca. This sperm fertilizes the female’s eggs, which is how a snake gets pregnant.

How Do Snakes Mate?

It starts when the female snake releases pheromones from glands on her back. The location means that she leaves a trail of pheromones behind her, wherever she goes. The male finds the scent and follows the trail.

When the male finds the female, he does the following:

  1. Slides his way up her body. In some cases, he may wrap himself around her to make it more difficult for her to escape.
  2. Once he reaches her head, he bumps his chin into it multiple times.
  3. He then wraps his tail around hers to find her cloaca. At this point, his hemipenes will be extended.
  4. Once he finds the cloaca, the mating may last many hours.
  5. When done, the male will release a mating plug.

According to the Journal of Experimental Biology, male snakes can use up to 18% of their daily energy in the production of a mating plug, leaving him hungry and weaker in the process.

Snake Mating Ball To Get the Female

Snakes can mate in a unique shape, called a mating ball. It’s so-called because dozens of male snakes appear to be a big, writhing mass.

Inside this ‘mating ball,’ there may be dozens of males all competing for the attention of just one female. Why do snakes mate in a ball?

Only the strongest, fastest, and fittest snakes will be able to reproduce. This ensures that baby snakes are most likely to be strong, like their parents. This is the basis of natural selection. It’s about the survival of the fittest.

Some male snakes have learned to disguise themselves as females, through secreting scents usually associated with females ready to breed. The theory is that this catches out the first males so that the pretend-female gets a better chance of mating with the female.

Do female snakes eat the male after mating? Not usually, but green anacondas in Brazil do. Records of a trek in National Geographic has an incredible story and picture of this happening.

It shows a female, as thick and wide as a truck tire, constricting her mate. The writers thought that it could be because the male is a good source of protein and nutrients to an expecting mother.

Snake Asexual Reproduction

Snakes are one of a small group of animals that can reproduce asexually. The flower pot snake is one example. The females of the species can produce young through a process called parthenogenesis.

In doing so, they can create clones of themselves. Depending on the exact scientific process, these can be either full clones or half-clones, depending on the amount of genetic material inherited by their young.

A study in Biology Letters looked at the issue, specifically in North American pitviper snakes, including copperheads and cottonmouths. Both of these species can reproduce asexually.

It’s possible for a female to store sperm in her cloaca for up to six years, and that sperm remains healthy. She might suddenly become pregnant.

Snakes can reproduce asexually, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve mated with themselves. Mating refers to the act of two snakes breeding.

Can Different Species of Snakes Interbreed?

All species of snakes have differently shaped hemipenes and cloacae. In a way, they’re reminiscent of keys and locks. A key that is used to unlock the wrong kind of lock won’t work. However, it’s still possible for two different species to breed together.

It all depends on what you mean by different ‘species,’ and to unravel that idea, we have to go back to basic biology.

In biological classification, there are eight significant levels. At the bottom are the species. Then, moving upwards, we have a genus, family, order, and class. Let’s use the corn snake as an example:

Species:This is the corn snake itself, defined by its colors and habitat, which is unique among snakes.
Genus:Corn snakes are in the genus Pantherophis, also known as rat snakes. There are about a dozen different rat snakes. They’re all constrictors that eat rodents.
Family:Corn snakes are Colubrids, a big group that contains Pantherophis and other families.
Suborder:Corn snakes are in the suborder Serpentes, which contains all snakes.
Order:Corn snakes are in the order Squamata, which contains most lizards and reptiles.
Class:Corn snakes are in the order Reptilia, containing all reptiles.

Breeding two snakes of the same subspecies together is not a problem. That means that having two varieties of corn snake breed is fine.

Corn snakes are almost unique in that they can breed with a startling number of other species from the same genus, even the same family. Corn snakes can interbreed with the following snakes:

  • California Kingsnakes. When a corn snake mates with a California Kingsnake, they create what’s been termed a ‘Jungle Corn.’
  • Gopher Snakes. A hybrid between a gopher snake and a corn snake is called a ‘Gopher Corn’ or a ‘Turbo Corn.’
  • Great Plains Rat Snakes. A hybrid between an albino corn snake and a Great Plains Rat Snake is called a ‘Creamsicle Corn.’

The unusual thing is that these hybrid snakes are fertile. This is not usually the case. Take the offspring of a lion and a tiger (they produce a ‘liger.’)

According to a biological rule named Haldane’s rule, when two species interbreed, the males are usually sterile. Ligers follow this rule, but corn snake hybrids don’t.

How Do Snakes Give Birth to Eggs?

Some snakes give birth to eggs, and some snakes give birth to live young. Corn snakes, for example, lay eggs. Sea snakes, by contrast, give birth to live young. There are 3 different ways that snakes produce their young:

Oviparous:These snakes give birth to eggs. Around 70% of snakes are oviparous, as are the vast majority of Colubrids.
Ovoviviparous:These snakes develop the eggs within their body, but the eggs hatch inside her. She then gives birth to live young. Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous snakes.
Viviparous:They give birth to live young, and at no point is there an egg involved. The young develop inside a placenta and yolk sack. Boa constrictors are viviparous.

With regard to oviparous snakes, after mating, the snake will find the ideal place to lay her eggs. This is called oviposition. The location has to be sheltered so that it doesn’t get too cold. Remember, snakes are cold-blooded.

The development of the eggs takes place within the female herself. The snake pushes her eggs out from her uterus and through the cloaca using muscle contractions.

The eggs are pushed out one after the other, steadily, until the female has birthed them all. The eggs stick together so that they can’t roll around, which might damage the baby snakes inside.

After they give birth, the vast majority of female snakes then abandon their eggs, leaving the babies to fend for themselves. However, some do stay with their eggs to protect and warm them. Pythons are one example.

How Do Snakes Make Eggs?

The process of making eggs largely takes place in the oviduct, which is the tube that connects the ovaries with the uterus.

The eggs are released from the ovaries. As they travel to the uterus, they are coated with a special secretion. In combination with protein fibers released in the uterus, they create the egg’s shell.

Snake eggs are more uniform throughout, whereas other kinds of eggshell have several layers made from different materials.

According to PLOS One, snake eggs only have a superficial coating of these protective, semipermeable crystals. This gives the eggs a different feel to ‘normal’ eggs. Instead of being brittle and thin, they’re leathery and thick.

The eggs then gestate until they’re ready to be birthed. This takes many weeks, throughout which the eggs develop, becoming larger.

How Long Does It Take for a Snake to Lay Eggs?

From the moment of mating until the eggs are laid, the process takes about 30 to 45 days. Eggs and young take the same amount of time to develop, regardless of whether the snake is big or small. Snakes have a relatively short gestation period compared to mammals.

If your snake is pregnant and you’re waiting for her to give birth, that’s a sign that she’s closing in on her due date, apart from the fact that they’re getting bigger around the middle.

About four weeks after mating, your snake will start her prenatal shed. This is just like any other shed, but it’s a useful marker for when she’s about to begin birthing her eggs or young.

From the moment she starts birthing, it usually takes a snake 24 hours to lay all of her eggs. The smaller the snake, the fewer eggs she’ll lay. The largest constrictors lay up to 100 eggs each time they birth.

However, birthing isn’t always without its problems. It’s possible for your snake to become egg-bound, meaning that there’s an egg that’s too big or too broken to birth.


Living snakes (Serpentes) comprise more than 3,400 species. They are virtually cosmopolitan in distribution, occupying fossorial, arboreal, terrestrial, and aquatic environs, and living in climates ranging from arid deserts to the open ocean. Crown snakes are split into two major clades: Scolecophidia, which includes blind snakes and thread snakes, and Alethinophidia, which comprises all other snakes [1]. Within Alethinophidia, the most diverse and disparate clade is Henophidia, which includes booids (pythons and boas) and caenophidians (viperids, elapids, and colubrids).

The ecological and evolutionary origins of snakes have long been debated in light of the clade’s incredible extant diversity, and the distinctive snake body plan. Among the major questions surrounding snake origins are whether snakes first arose on the Mesozoic supercontinent of Gondwana or Laurasia, whether snakes originated on land or in the sea, and whether the earliest snakes were fossorial, terrestrial, or arboreal in their habits. Inferring the phenotype, ecology, and biogeography of the ancestral snake has heretofore been hindered by the relative lack of informative fossils of early stem snakes. Furthermore, deciphering the evolutionary origins of snakes is complicated by the fact that scolecophidian snakes, which are sister to all other crown snakes, are highly modified and overprinted with unique morphological and behavioral apomorphies [2,3]. These include ecological and behavioral features such as exclusively fossorial habits, specialized feeding on social insects and their larvae, as well as derived phenotypic characteristics such as highly reduced eyes, uniquely modified jaws, and smooth, deeply imbricate, cycloid body scales.

However, recent discoveries of more complete, better-preserved specimens of fossil stem snakes such as Dinilysia patagonica (Santonian-Campanian) [4], Najash rionegrina (Cenomanian) [5,6], and Coniophis precedens (Maastrichtian) [7] suggest that the unique characteristics of scolecophidians likely do not represent the ancestral condition for snakes. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that Dinilysia, Najash, and Coniophis represent successively more remote hierarchical sisters to crown snakes, with Dinilysia representing the immediate sister to the crown [4,7,8]. These specimens thus provide abundant new data on the origin of early snakes. Importantly, these fossil species are also unambiguously terrestrial [4,7,8]: this, in combination with the recently revised phylogenetic position of the limbed Tethyan marine snakes (Simoliophiidae e.g., Haasiophis terrasanctus [9], Eupodophis descouensis [10], and Pachyrachis problematicus [11]) as nested within Alethinophidia (rather than representing stem snakes) [4,8], offers compelling evidence against the marine origin hypothesis for snakes.

These recent fossil findings, in conjunction with fossils of previously unknown, extinct members of crown Serpentes such as Sanajeh indicus [12] and Kataria anisodonta [13], provide abundant new data on the morphology and evolution of the earliest known snakes, and emphasize the crucial role fossils play in accurately inferring evolutionary history [14]. In light of this newfound wealth of fossil data, we infer the ecology, behavior, and biogeography of early snakes by synthesizing information from the fossil record with phenotypic and genetic data for Recent species. Specifically, we reconstruct the ancestor of the snake total-group and of crown snakes, using both established and recently developed analytical methodologies. Additionally, we infer divergence time trees using a combination of traditional node-based dating and novel fossil tip-dating methods [15,16] to explore the pattern and timing of major events in early snake evolution.

Corn snake

Corn snakes, sometimes called red rat snakes, are slender, orange or brownish-yellow snakes with a pattern of large, red blotches outlined in black down their backs.

Along their bellies are distinctive rows of alternating black and white marks, which resemble a checkerboard pattern. The name corn snake may have originated from the similarity of these markings to the checkered pattern of kernels of maize or Indian corn.

These snakes exhibit considerable variations in color and pattern, depending on their age and geographic range. Young hatchlings also lack the brighter coloration seen in adults.

Corn snakes are found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey to Florida, into Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. They are most abundant in Florida and other southeastern states.

Introduced populations have been recorded on several islands in the Caribbean, with established populations in the Bahamas (New Providence and Grand Bahama), Grand Cayman, the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas) and the Lesser Antilles.

These snakes inhabit wooded groves, rocky hillsides, meadowlands, woodlots, rocky open areas, tropical hammocks, barns and abandoned buildings.

These constrictors bite their prey to get a firm grip, then quickly coil themselves around their meal, squeezing tightly until the prey is subdued. Finally, they swallow their food whole, usually headfirst. Corn snakes have also been observed swallowing small prey alive.

These snakes typically feed every few days. Young hatchlings eat lizards and tree frogs, while adults feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds and bats. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, corn snakes eat mice and rats.

Breeding season for these snakes takes place from March to May. Corn snakes are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs that later hatch. In late May to July, the female snake lays a clutch of 10 to 30 eggs in rotting stumps, piles of decaying vegetation or other similar locations with sufficient heat and humidity to incubate the eggs.

Adult corn snakes do not care for their eggs, which require about 60 to 65 days at a temperature of about 82 degrees Fahrenheit to hatch. The eggs hatch between July and September, and hatchlings are 25 to 38 centimeters (10 to 15 inches) long. They reach maturity in about 18 to 36 months.

Throughout its range, the corn snake's population appears relatively stable. However, the state of Florida lists corn snakes as a species of special concern, and they are protected in Georgia.

On a local scale, corn snakes can be impacted by habitat destruction. Additionally, corn snakes are sometimes mistaken for the venomous copperhead snake and killed as a result.

Corn snakes are widely popular as pets. In fact, they are the most commonly bred snake species in the pet industry. Like many snakes, corn snakes also provide an important service to humans: they control rodent populations. By preying on rodents, corn snakes help prevent the spread of diseases associated with these animals.

Watch the video: Γιάννης Αγγελή: Ο Κύπριος γητευτής φιδιών - Πώς είναι να ζεις με ερπετά (July 2022).


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