Newly hatched reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus). These are one of the largest snakes in the world with the longest measuring 28 feet. Photo by: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS.
Okay, so some snakes are so venomous they can kill you in 30 minutes (the inland taipan). And, yes, the fact that they don’t have legs is a little creepy to many people. And, admittedly, some scientists have even suggested that humans may have an inborn genetic terror of snakes as an evolutionary strategy to keep us safe from what may have been a major human predator.
But, all that said, snakes are beautiful. Snakes are wildly diverse. Snakes are important ecological predators, especially in keeping rodent populations in check. And let’s face it snakes have survived a lot longer than us: over 100 million years to date. Maybe it’s time we start treating them with awe and respect, instead of fear and disgust.
“Numbering more than 3,400 species worldwide, snakes occupy a wide range of tropical and temperate ecosystems, including deserts, mountains summits, and even marine environments,” said Don Boyer, WCS Curator of Herpetology. “Since 2008, 309 new snake species have been described.”
Yet snakes have long been under-represented in conservation initiatives. There are few conservation programs dedicated solely to a threatened snake species or to snakes in general. Moreover, in many cases we don’t even know what snakes are threatened. While the IUCN Red List, the world’s most authoritative body on endangerment levels, has evaluated nearly 100 percent of the world’s mammals, birds, and amphibians, it has only evaluated 43 percent of the world’s reptiles.
And snakes are still suffering from human vitriol and misunderstanding. For example, some parts of the U.S. still practice “Rattle snake round-up” fairs where wild snakes are captured and often killed en masse.
To see more snake photos: Snakes from Around the World.
One of the world’s most famous snakes: the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). It’s the largest venomous snakes in the world reaching a length of 18 feet. Photo by: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS.
A juvenile green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) in Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Anacondas are famous constrictors taking on prey as large tapirs, caimans, and even people, albeit rarely. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
A green tree python (Morelia viridis). This resplendent species is found in Indonesia and Australia. Photo by: Dennis DeMello/WCS.
The timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is found in the Eastern U.S. It has vanished from some parts of its range, putting it on the endangered list in some states. Photo by: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS.
Asian vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina) in Borneo. Although venomous it’s not considered dangerous to humans. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Cave dwelling ratsnake (Elaphe taeniura ridleyi) grabbing a bat in flight and eating it in Malaysia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Salmon bellied snake in Costa Rica. This species is found in much of Central America and not considered threatened. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Madagascar leaf-nosed snake (Langaha madagascariensis). As its name suggests, this species is only found on the island of Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Gmelin’s Bronzeback snake (Dendrelaphis pictus) eating a frog. This species has not been evaluated by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
(06/16/2014) A new species of wolf snake has been discovered in the Cardamom Mountains of southeast Cambodia.
(02/04/2014) Flying snakes achieve surprising amounts of lift through the shape of their bodies, report researchers from Virginia Tech in a paper recently published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. The study examined how paradise tree snakes—one of five species of so-called flying snake found in Southeast Asia—shape their bodies to achieve the lift that allows them to glide up to 30 meters between trees.
(12/27/2013) A security guard at a hotel in Bali was killed after he tried to catch a 13-foot-long (4m) python, reports Agence France-Presse.
(09/06/2013) A fungal outbreak in the eastern and Midwestern United States is infecting some populations of wild snakes. Snake Fungal Disease (SFD), a fungal dermatitis consistently associated with the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, is showing recent spikes in occurrence according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) and other diagnostic laboratories.
(09/02/2013) In a world first, scientists have captured images and video of a boa constrictor attacking and devouring whole a femle howler monkey, one of the largest new world primates weighing in at around 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds). The rare predation event was recorded in a tiny forest fragment (2.5 hectares) in the Brazilian state of Rondonia by Erika Patricia Quintino, a PhD student at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul.
(05/15/2013) A stunning new species of pit-viper has been discovered in the cloud forest of Honduras. The venomous snake is described in the journal ZooKeys.
(04/23/2013) Authorities in Vietnam arrested a man who they say was transporting 53 king cobras — a protected snake species — in his car, reports the Associated Press.
(02/15/2013) Nearly a fifth the planet’s reptiles are threatened with extinction, warns a new assessment published in the journal Biological Conservation.