I've always been interested in exotic animals, especially animals that frighten most people.
A friend of mine keeps snakes for pets. I have known him for more than 25 years, and during that time he has always had at least a couple of snakes in his home, and I believe a spider or two. Yes, I do mean on purpose. He is a relatively normal fellow (well, at least by my standards) so I kind of got used to the idea that there are some people out there that view these slinky reptiles a bit differently than I do.
But one thing that cannot be denied, at least once you get past your initial repulsion, is that snakes are truly beautiful creatures. Maybe not in the way that a furry squirrel or a delicate butterfly is beautiful, but they do have a unique elegance and primal charm that no other creature can match. This can be difficult to see when the lovely viper is hissing at you from a few feet away, so I have collected a few of the most fascinating here for you to enjoy.
1. Emerald Green Pit Viper
Let's begin with a relatively new discovery; the Emerald Green Pit Viper was first found in 2002 in the eastern mountains of the Himalayas in the nation of Burma. This intensely green venomous snake has bright markings with males having red eyes with red and white stripes while females have yellow eyes and stripes that are mostly white. They can grow to at least 4½ feet long, but as a fairly recent finding in the reptile kingdom, there may be much about this lovely creature that we are yet to learn, including their actual maximum size.
2. Blue Malaysian Coral Snake
The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake grows to about 5 feet and lives on a diet of other snakes, including others of its own kind. It might occasionally consume a lizard or a frog, maybe even an unlucky bird, but for the most part it is strictly a snake eater. This poisonous reptile is active mostly at night when it can be fairly aggressive while remaining rather timid until the sun goes down. It uses its colorful body to scare off predators by turning over and showing its red belly and uses its tail as a decoy for its head, allowing it to strike when its tail is attacked. The snake can be found in Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand.
3. Brazilian Rainbow Boa
The Brazilian Rainbow Boa is one of nature's most beautiful snakes. The iridescent quality of its scales is caused by tiny ridges on the scales that refract light like small prisms. This adds to the boa's already attractive coloring and really makes this a standout reptile. Found mainly in the Amazon Basin, this snake feeds mostly on small rodents and birds but also may eat amphibians such as frogs and lizards. It is a mid-sized snake, averaging about 5 feet though occasionally reaching 7 feet or more.
4. Northern Scarlet Snake
The Northern Scarlet Snake is found in the southern and eastern United States, often burrowing in open forest areas or developed agricultural areas and spends most of its time hidden. This nonvenomous colubrid feeds mostly on reptile eggs including snake eggs but also sometimes eats rodents or lizards. It is a small snake with a maximum length of less than two feet with a record length of 32 inches.
5. King Cobra
When it comes to big snakes, people generally think of boas, pythons, and anacondas. But the King Cobra, the world's longest venomous snake, is no shorty by a long shot. Averaging around 12 feet but topping out at over 18 feet, the King Cobra is still a fast and agile reptile. It is considered the most dangerous Asiatic snake, delivering a potent amount of venom in a single bite. Found throughout Southeast Asia and parts of India, this snake subsists mainly on other snakes but will now and then consume lizards, small rodents, and even birds.
6. Topaz Tanami Woma Python
The Topaz Tanami Woma Python is a medium-sized python growing to about 3½ feet that was purposefully bred while in captivity from the Tanami Woma Python to increase the richness of its colors. The Tanami Woma is found in the Tanami Desert region of Australia's Northern Territory. In their natural habitat, womas are burrowing snakes, often living in multi-chambered burrows. They eat small mammals such as rabbits as well as lizards and other reptiles.
7. Leucistic Texas Rat Snake
The Leucistic Texas Rat Snake is a nonvenomous colubrid found primarily in Texas. I wonder if that has anything to do with why it was named what it was? The "leucistic" part means they have reduced pigmentation of all skin pigments which is different from albinism in which only melanin is reduced. Unlike albinos, animals characterized by leucism do not have altered eye color. Growing to lengths over 6 feet, the Leucistic Texas Rat Snake has a healthy appetite and consumes plenty of rodents and birds as well as frogs and lizards. They are quick to bite if handled, but their bite is mostly harmless.
8. Emerald Tree Boa
The Emerald Tree Boa is found in many parts of South America including along the Amazon River. They average around 6 feet in length but can grow up to 9 feet. Their diet is mainly small mammals but they do occasionally consume birds, lizards, and frogs. Their slow metabolism allows them to go several months between meals. Though completely unrelated species, Emerald Tree Boas appear very similar to the Green Tree Python who are closely related to the High Yellow Green Tree Python.
9. High Yellow Green Tree Python
The High Yellow Tree Python is a large snake that grows from 4 to 7 feet long. It is nonvenomous and eats small mammals and sometimes reptiles. They hunt by hanging from branches and striking from an S shape, then constricting the prey. It is an oviparous snake and one of the few snakes that stays with its eggs to incubate them. It is found mainly on the island of Kofiau in West Papua, Indonesia, though the aforementioned Green Tree Python to which it is closely related can be found throughout most of Indonesia, New Guinea, and parts of Queensland, Australia.
10. Pied-Bellied Shieldtail Snake
Pied-Bellied Shieldtails are nonvenomous, burrowing snakes that mostly live underground in India and Sri Lanka. It is believed they eat mainly earthworms, but very little research has been done to support this. They are relatively small with a maximum length of around 2½ feet but more often are much smaller, with full-grown snakes sometimes no longer than eight inches.
11. Coast Garter Snake
The Coast Garter Snake can be found in the western coastal states of the United States from Oregon down through southern California. The snake is considered harmless to humans but does produce a mild neurotoxin that it distributes by chewing its prey. A bite from one of these colubrids can produce swelling and irritation but has no lasting effect. Coast Garter Snakes have one of the most diverse diets of any reptiles and will consume practically anything it can overpower from slugs, earthworms, and leeches to birds, fish, and rodents. They grow approximately from 18 to 42 inches.
12. Red Milk Snake
Red Milk Snakes are nonvenomous but look very similar some species of the poisonous Coral Snake, fooling predators into mistaking the harmless snake for its deadlier doppelganger. Red Milk Snakes can be found from the southern parts of Canada down to parts of Ecuador and Venezuela.
They can reach a maximum length of almost five feet, but most are smaller, sometimes reaching only about 20 inches as an adult. Their diet is mostly made up of rodents, but they are opportunistic eaters and will consume other snakes, fish, reptiles, birds and bird eggs, and more. They got their name from an urban myth that they would suck milk from a cow's udder that likely developed due to their abundance in barns where a bounty of rodents were available for feeding.
13. Eastern Corn Snake
Eastern Corn Snakes (or simply Corn Snakes or also known as Red Rat Snakes) are found in the southeastern and central United States. These beautiful reptiles reach lengths of 4 feet up to about 6 feet and are often found in areas where small rodents gather as this is their primary source of food. They are rather docile snakes that make excellent pets as their care is rather simple and they are generally reluctant to bite, making them a good choice even for young snake enthusiasts.
Bonus: Easter Corn Snake
A close relative of the Eastern Corn Snake, the unbelievably colorful Easter Corn Snake is only seen once a year in the latter part of March through sometime in late April. The specific day it can be seen varies annually making it hard for many people to know exactly when the snake will come around each year.
It survives generally on a diet of Easter eggs and can often be found in areas where Easter egg hunts are being held. But these snakes from time to time have also been known to consume Peeps that stray from the flock and even swallow rabbits whole, but only the marshmallow and solid milk chocolate kinds of bunnies. Unlike their relatives the Eastern Corn Snake, they do not make good pets as they tend to inexplicably vanish from their enclosures after three days.
General Snake Facts
- Snakes are all muscles and backbone with some species having up to 500 vertebrae. Humans have 33.
- Many harmless snakes share similar coloring with deadlier snakes as a method of defense against predators.
- You cannot win a staring contest with a snake. They have no eyelids and do not blink with their eye being protected instead by a transparent scale.
- Most snakes have hundreds of teeth but only use those teeth to hold prey while swallowing it.
- With the exception of Antarctica, snakes are found on every continent and on almost all islands.
- There are almost 3000 known species of snakes.
- Boids: A classification of snakes that includes boas, pythons, and anacondas. All boids are non-venomous constrictors.
- Colubrids: A broad classification that includes about two-thirds of all snakes, most of which, but not all, are nonvenomous. Even those that can produce venom are considered harmless to humans.
- Constrictor: A snake that disables prey by wrapping around it and tightening its coils to incapacitate or kill the prey.
- Elapids: A classification that includes all fixed-fang snakes such as cobras and coral snakes. All elapids are venomous, and this classification includes all the deadliest snakes in the world, attacking the central nervous system of its victims with a fast-acting neurotoxin that restricts breathing.
- Herpetology: The study of amphibians and reptiles, including snakes.
- Leucism: A condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in all skin pigments in animals and humans resulting in irregular patches of white on an animal or in rarer instances a complete coat of white.
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- Oviparous: This refers to animals that lay eggs that hatch externally from their bodies. In addition to most snakes, birds and the platypus are oviparous.
- Ovoviviparous: This refers to animals who carry the eggs internally with the egg becoming only a thin membrane by the time a "live birth" occurs. Some snakes give birth this way, but this is not truly a live birth.
- Viperids: A classification that includes vipers, adders, and rattlesnakes. All viperids are poisonous, producing a hematoxic venom that attacks its victim's blood and tissue.
- Viviparous: This refers to animals that truly give a live birth with no internal egg structure present during development of the offspring. It has recently been learned that a few species of snake are viviparous including the boa constrictor and green anaconda.
Snakes on a Poll
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 George Stephens
Easter corn snake on July 07, 2020:
What the fish. That's a joke right?
Owusu William on June 24, 2020:
I wish my pet was the Blue Malaysain coral snake
London on June 20, 2020:
So cool i wish i had a pet corn snake i love there skin
Saba on June 03, 2020:
Thanks to these information I’m more interested in snakes
Jack King Of Reptiles on May 29, 2020:
I still think that snakes are magnificent creatures and I love them.
This article shows just how much beauty the animal kingdom has to offer.
bea-bijou bolotra on December 11, 2019:
thank you expertherpetologist magnificent
ExpertHerpetologist on November 14, 2019:
Very informative. I am glad someone mentioned the elusive Easter Corn Snake, a species that does not get nearly as enough attention in herpetological circles. Thank you for bringing awareness to this elegant and mysterious snake, although the careful studies into its habits by some of the more aware herpetologists has challenged the assumption that the Easter Corn Snake only comes out on one day. It has been seen for 2 days on end in some places. I can assure you that all of my sources are authentic and accurate. A great and compelling study into the Easter Corn Snake though!
Snakesmum on March 05, 2016:
Beautiful photos - snakes are such attractive creatures. I have three pythons at the moment. Wish more people would realise they are not as bad as their reputation!
Lisa C. Robertson from Alabama on September 01, 2014:
I loved all the photos, very beautiful. I am a photographer and an artist and I plan to draw and paint a colorful abstract in my "usual abstract style", using close ups of the skins of different colorful snakes, this hub will help tremendously in my search for the right snakes to draw from! When my boys were children, I bought them an Eastern (not Easter, lol, very funny, by the way) Corn snake just like the one in the picture, she was a very sweet snake and we all loved her. My 23 year old son recently brought home a Red Tail Boa from Florida, while on his honeymoon. We love her too!
fhoxx on May 28, 2014:
Wonder how many people believed the easter corn snake was real lol
LastVerse on May 16, 2014:
Fun fact: Easter corn snakes' colors depend on what kind of peeps you give them. XD
emurph87 from Chautauqua County, NY on June 17, 2011:
Beautiful pictures and very informative. Regardless, I will probably never keep a snake, as I find them to have less personality than other animals. Doesn't make them any less pretty.
Shamim on June 14, 2011:
Really God iws great who created such a colourful animals
Kalpana Iyer from India on May 24, 2011:
Wish the Easter Corn Snake actually existed. It looks so beautiful! The Emerald Tree Boa is scaryyyyy - I mean look at its expression! I'm from India and at my ancestral home I have seen 2 king cobras fighting it out with each other. Saw it from a distance and my dad caught it on a video. This was long back and don't know where we have kept the video cassette, but boy it was some experience! Also, snakes are considered sacred in India and we are not allowed to kill or injure them in any way. A very entertaining and useful hub.
Amy DeMarco from Chicago on May 21, 2011:
I was at the Rainforest Cafe the other day and they have a little zoo with snakes, turtles, crocidiles and alligators. We were the only ones there so we got to take our time. I couldn't help noticing how beautiful some of those snakes really are. I'm still afraid of them but I can appreciate their beauty. Of all the snakes you have pictured here the Emerald Green Pit Viper and Easter Corn Snakes are the most beautiful. The Easter Corn Snake is so beautiful it doesn't look real! I enjoyed this hub and voted up, useful and awesome.
Yvonne L. B. from South Louisiana on May 21, 2011:
A beautiful hub and very informative. Did you take the photographs? They are outstanding.
Alaster Packer on May 21, 2011:
I don't want to give the last snake away on the feed but brilliant.This is a unique and one the better in the pets and animal-reptile snake categories I've seen. Fantastic pics. Good text. Very impressed DarkSinistar.