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Many people in South Africa are scared of snakes, because of all the native traditions and beliefs that has been handed over to the modern day people. Snakes are sometimes believed to be evil and are often killed by people that don't know how important they are to our ecosystem.
Snakes belong to the class of animals known as reptiles, they are cold-blooded creatures that rely on external heat to keep their bodies warm. Many fossil remains has been discovered and proved that snakes have been living on this earth for millions of years.
Many limbless lizards are mistaken for snakes and some snakes are mistaken for worms, but snakes differ from lizards in the following ways:
1) Both sides of the lower jaw are attached infront by elastic ligaments, so the snake can swallow large prey. In lizards these bones are solidly united in front.
2)The upper jaw and palate in the vast majority of snakes are more or less movable, which, with the distensible lower jaw, so that the snake can swallow comparatively large prey.
3)The tongue can be completely withdrawn into a sheath in the mouth.
4)The presence of additional articulations to the vertebrae.
5)No snakes have movable eyelids, there is a fixed transparent scale over the eyeball.
6)Snakes have no external opening to the ear.
7)Large transverse shields are on the underpart of the body of most snakes. Legless lizards never have these.
Snakes shed the outer layer of their skin several times annually, differing in frequency with the species, and the abundance or otherwise of food. Captive snakes which refuse to eat usually sheds only once, although they may survive a year before dying of starvation.
Snakes that lay eggs which are hatched or incubated outside the body are known as oviparous snakes. These snakes lay their eggs in warm places. Most snakes leave their eggs after it's layed, but some like the Python coils around it 'till it hatches.
Some snakes such as the Schaapsteker and the Night Adder, incubates the eggs to a certain degree before it is brought forth.
Snakes that give birth to live young are known as ovo-viviparous snakes. In these cases the eggs hatch inside the snake's body and the mother gives birth to them. When these snakes are pregnant, the mother tries to lie in the sun as much as posible.
Snakes have the following enemies:
Snakes do not migrate from one locality to another, unless forced by hunger or changes in their surroundings. Most species hibernate in the colder months. They do this for two good reasons: The food is scarce during the winter months and their bodies rely on the temperature of the surroundings to keep them warm. In South Africa several snakes do not hibernate, because of the temperature that remains warm all year long in some districts.
Snakes are frequently infested by parasites like ticks and a species of lice. To keep these captive snakes clean of parasites you can wash their cages with disinfectant and smear the body with oil. Ordinary salad oil with a little paraffin in it is the most suitable application.
Louis P van Niekerk