I try to fill the void and write an occasional article on reptiles and amphibians. I love the critters and have had both but don’t feel I know enough about the subject to apply for the position. However, having the opportunity to write about a subject I love is a little bit of Heaven for me.
I ran into a fascinating article on how snakes propel themselves. The subject interests me because my warped brother gave me a line of complete baloney when I was a little kid. We were traveling across country and were in the desert in New Mexico. He told me a story about “hoop snakes.”
He told me that the snakes would grasp their tail with their mouth and propel themselves by rolling like a wheel. Of course this is complete nonsense but, it did shut me up as I watched out the car window looking for rolling hoop snakes. My brother had a bit of peace and quiet from his little sister’s constant questions.
I ran into a study by David Hu on snake propulsion. We think of the snake’s ability to move forward using their strong muscles to push them forward. While the muscles are important the scales are more important. The way the scales are positioned resembles shingles on the roof of the house. The stomach scales can catch on the smallest of objects pushing them in a forward motion.
If the snake is on a smooth surface it would be unable to slither forward. They use their muscles and weight to add to their speed and efficiency. They redistribute their weight much as we do when we walk. We use our legs and muscles, snakes use their scales and muscles.
This information has lead to “snake-bots” mechanical robots used for search and rescue and even medical procedures, one example would be the ever so popular colonoscopy.
Of course snakes use other methods to slither and move. Examples of a few other methods included folding and bunching up and forcing or throwing their head forward giving them some distance, because the body follows. They can push off of rocks and other materials.
Learning more about animal facts gives us the opportunity to provide a better habitat for our pets. We have taken on the responsibility to are for our animals. The more we understand the greater the care we can provide.
As I have written many times in the past, animals have, and will continue to teach us a great deal.
My reptile article links are available beneath the rattlesnake photos.
Rattlesnake image – snake photos thanks to public domain free photos
Thank you for the rattlesnake images www.copyright-free-pictures.org.uk. Notice how the scales overlap much like shingles on a roof of a house.
My Reptiles Articles - Reptile Care Articles
Gecko - Snake - Rats - Reader's Personal Stories
Snakes - How to Care for Snakes
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Really good book about snakes
The Art of Keeping Snakes (Advanced Vivarium Systems)
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Ferrets: A Complete Guide
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Reptiles and Amphibians Editor