There are more than 3,000 different species of snakes in the world. As members of the wilderness, they play a crucial role in ecosystems by keeping food webs in check and contributing to them. Snakes are natural predators that control pest populations like insects and small rodents but are also food for raptors and mammals.
While many snakes have menacing features or are venomous, some are harmless, look goofy, make excellent pets, or become the subject of memes on the internet. Here are seven snakes that are not only cute but are essential to their ecosystems.
1. Arabian Sand Boa
Where Does An Arabian Sand Boa Live?
The Arabian Sand Boa (Eryx jayakari) lives in the Arabian Peninsula. It is most known for its googly-like eyes that rest on the top of its head instead of its sides like other snakes, giving the boa a sock puppet appearance. But while goofy looking, the snake's eye position lets it keep an eye out for prey while its body stays buried in the sand.
What Does an Arabian Sand Boa Eat?
The Arabian Sand Boa eats small mammals and lizards. Their color pattern, varying from black or brown across an orange to yellow body, gives the snake an edge when camouflaging in the sand.
While other boas give birth to live snakes, the Arabian Sand Boa is one of the few species that lays eggs. Females will lay about seven eggs at a time and are larger than male snakes. According to Rufus Darden Reptiles, Arabian Sand Boas are rare in captivity and challenging to propagate successfully in the U.S.
Is the Arabian Sand Boa Venomous?
The Arabian Sand Boa is not venomous. It is known for its distinctive, non-threatening appearance rather than for venomous qualities.
2. Barbados Threadsnake
This species was first discovered in 2006 before researchers formally described and published it in Zootaxa in 2008. Female Barbados threadsnakes lay one elongated, tube-like egg.
Where Does the Barbados Threadsnake Live?
The Barbados threadsnake (Leptotyphlops carlae) is found burrowing in the forests of eastern Barbados.
What Does The Barbados Threadsnake Eat?
Its small size and burrowing capabilities led scientists to suspect that the tiny snake feeds on the insect larvae of ants and termites.
Is The Barbados Threadsnake Venomous?
The Barbados threadsnake is thought to be non-venomous. The reptile is currently the world's smallest known snake and harmless to humans, with adults only reaching 4.1 inches long or about the length of a credit card. It is so tiny its entire length can curl up on a U.S. quarter.
Read More: Why Do Snakes Eat Themselves?
3. Rosy Boa
The rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata) may not look too pink but is called 'rosy' for the pink hue of their bellies. The stripes adorning their bodies can be either reddish-brown or a reddish-magenta hue. The boas are known as one of the slowest moving snakes in the world, clocking in at one mph on the ground, according to Idaho Falls.
Where Do Rosy Boas Live?
These constrictor snakes are found in Southern California's deserts, shrublands, national parks, and northwest Mexico. According to the Los Angeles Zoo, rosy boas are found hiding inside burrows, rocks, and logs.
If they're threatened and aren't able to hide in time, rosy boas will try to protect themselves by tricking predators into thinking their tail is the head of a striking snake. It does this by curling into a ball headfirst and waving its tail while releasing a foul scent from its tail gland.
What Do Rosy Boas' Eat?
Rosy boas can eat small mammals, such as kangaroo rats and deer mice, according to Web MD. The boas will stalk or wait to strike their prey with their jaws, constricting their bodies around the prey and squeezing to ensure death. Once the boa successfully catches its lunch, it swallows the prey promptly.
Are Rosy Boas Venomous?
Rosy boas are not venomous. While found in the wild, Rosy boas are kept as pets. In captivity, the boas can live up to 20 to 30 years and get about two to three feet long.
4. Ball Python
These snakes are known as ball pythons because, when threatened, they will curl into a ball, with their head in the center, and will not move until they feel safe again.
Where Do Ball Pythons Live in The Wild?
Ball pythons (Python regius) are found in the grasslands of western and central Africa. The snakes grow up to five feet in length and can vary in color, with an egg and oval-shaped pattern along their bodies.
What Do Ball Python's Eat?
In captivity, ball python's eat small crickets and rodents. In the wild, ball pythons feed on small prey. They are nocturnal and will sit and wait for their prey.
Are Ball Python's Venomous?
Ball pythons are non-venomous. The snakes are kept as pets because of their docile attitudes, their unique color patterns, smaller size, and manageable care, according to Reptiles Magazine.
Read More: Why and Where Snakes Hibernate
5. Garter Snake
There are about 35 species of garter snake (Thamnophis) in North America according to Britannica. These snakes get their name from the signature striped pattern along their bodies. Stripes on the snakes can vary in color from yellow, red, and white and can also be accompanied by checkered patches.
Where Do Garter Snakes Live?
Garter snakes can be found in forests, meadows, freshwater marshes, or backyards.
What Do Garter Snakes Eat?
In the wild, the snakes will feed on earthworms, insects, frogs, salamanders, and toads and are harmless to humans. These snakes do not lay eggs and instead give birth. For example, the eastern garter snake births a litter of 10 to 40 snakes.
Are Garter Snakes Venomous?
Garter snakes are not venomous. However, when grabbed, the snakes will discharge a secretion from their anal gland, and some might strike. For humans, a bite from a garter snake might cause mild irritation but is not dangerous.
Read More: 10 of the World's Deadliest Snakes
6. Green Tree Python
The green tree python (Morelia viridis) is known for its bright lime green color and beady black eyes. Throughout their lives, the green python changes color. As juveniles, the snakes are either yellow or a reddish-brown color. These colors allow the snakes to blend into the forest's edges, on branches, and along the forest floor. As adults, they change to the bright green color that helps camouflage the snake on the tree's foliage.
Where Do Green Tree Pythons Live?
These pythons can be found curled up in and around trees in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, Indonesia, and on the northeastern part of Australia's Cape York Peninsula, according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.
What Do Green Tree Pythons Eat?
Green tree pythons will eat reptiles and small mammals. The snake's tail allows the python to climb up trees effortlessly and use their tails to lure curious prey before striking.
These snakes sense heat with sensory pits on their jaws to track nearby prey. In the wild, the pythons live up to 15 years. In captivity, the snakes can live up to 20 years.
Are Green Tree Pythons Venomous?
No, green tree pythons are not venomous. They subdue their prey through constriction rather than venom.
Read More: Yes, Snakes Can Hear Sound
7. Rhinoceros Snake
The unique rhinoceros snake (Rhynchophis boulengeri or Gonyosoma boulengeri) has a distinctive pointy, soft protrusion at the end of its snout. Despite the peculiar appendage, researchers are still unsure about its function, according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.
Where Does the Rhinoceros Snake Live?
Rhinoceros snakes are found in subtropical rainforests in northern Vietnam and southern China. Their green color can vary as they age, changing from brownish-gray to blue-green once they reach two years old, and can span up to almost five feet long or 59 inches.
What Do Rhinoceros Snakes Eat?
These snakes can eat a variety of small mammals and possibly even birds, which they are adept at capturing due to their climbing abilities and agile nature. When kept in captivity, their diet is typically simplified to primarily include mice.
Are Rhinoceros Snakes Venomous?
These snakes are non-venomous, making them less of a threat to humans, although, like all wild animals, they should be treated with respect and caution.