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Snakes

There are reptiles without legs and with long flexible body.

 

With more than 10 families and more than 2500 species, snakes are a large and very successful group of animals. They can be found in all continents except Antarctica and even in places with very low temperatures.

 

In Cyprus, eight different species of snakes are found, from which, three are poisonous but only one is dangerous for humans. One from the eight species is endemic of Cyprus (that is Cyprus whip snake) and a second one is an endemic subspecies (that is the Cyprus grass snake).

 

Skin

The body of snakes is covered with scales, like the body of lizards. Snakes shed the outer part of their skin at a specific time of the year. The old skin is replaced by a new and more fit skin layer with a procedure known as shedding. This procedure takes place several times a year and its frequency depends mainly on the age of individuals and its growth rate.Unlike lizards, snakes change their skin not gradually and separately but all together in one piece like a shirt.

 

Skeleton

The snake’s skeleton is very light and very flexible. They have a relatively large number of vertebrae exceeding one hundred that in some species can reach 400. As a measure of comparison, humans have only 32 vertebrae. This feature in combination with the muscles that are located between the vertebrae gives snakes a unique flexibility.

The anatomy of the skull has specific adjustments. The bones that form the jaw of snakes are not adapted to the skull. Instead they are connected, both among themselves and with the skull, with elastic tissue and muscle. This connection provides snake’s jaws great flexibility which allows them to eat animals much larger than their heads.

 

Smell

Snakes are able to identify several chemical odors in their environment both though their nostrils and through an organ located in the palate of their mouth called «Jacobson organ». With the help of their tong, which they extend continuously out of her mouth, they collect odors (chemical particles) from the air and soil. When their tong recedes back to the mouth this particles adhere to the chemical sensor of «Jacobson organ» which detects and classify them. This system is extremely sensitive and much better than the smell of humans.

 

Hearing

Snakes do not have external acoustic organs (outer ear). However they have a system of small bones in their skull than can transfer and recognize sound (inner and middle ear). This system allows them to hear low frequency and feel vibrations that travel through soil and water.

 

Sight

The majority of snakes have very good eyesight that helps them especially in the detection of moving objects. In certain snake groups that live underground the sight is very substantial. Those species are only able to distinguish the fluctuations of light.

 

Many species of snakes inject venom in their prey through appropriate formation in the front or back teeth. Most poisonous snakes bite their prey and wait for the poison to take effect before they swallow the whole prey. The venom is produced in glands that are situated in the back of each side of the head (parotid glands) and contains acombination of poisonous substances. Some of these paralyze the nervous system while others brakes body tissues in order to facilitate digestion.

 

 

 

 

 



About Us

 

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Herpetological Society of Cyprus (HSC) was established in 1990 with the aim of promoting, studying and conserving Cyprus’ herpetofauna. As part of its work, HSC fulfill presentations, educational seminars, studies and researches, along with other activities that relates with informing and educating the public about reptiles Cyprus.

Contact Details
 
 
           Address:   Herpetological Society,
                            P.O box 61435,
                            8134,
                            Paphos, Cyprus
 
           Tel:          +357 26 967600
 
           Fax:         +357 26 967007
 
           Email: HerpetSocietyCy@gmail.com
 

            



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