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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2006


God’s Sensational Snakes

Snakes are some of the most frightening and interesting animals that God created. The fact that many snakes have sharp fangs and are venomous is enough to keep our attention. And although we might be a little afraid of these amazing creatures, it is important to remember that God created them for very specific purposes. In fact, many snakes eat rodents like mice and rats. Since rodents can have many babies in very short amounts of time, they might become too numerous and damage crops and food supplies if snakes were not around to eat them.  Furthermore, the venom from certain snakes can be used to make medicines that can help sick people. While we need to respect the fact that some snakes can be dangerous, we also need to study them to see how their design shows God’s creative ability.

Snakes are reptiles that are cold-blooded. The term “cold-blooded” means that snakes cannot keep their body temperature the same if it is cold outside. Unlike mammals, such as dogs or cats, snakes do not produce their own heat. They absorb heat from the Sun and from their environment. That is why you would never find a snake in Antarctica or other climates where it stays freezing most of the time. One good thing about being cold-blooded, however, is the fact that snakes do not have to eat all the time. Since they do not have to produce internal heat of their own, snakes can go for months and even a year or more without eating. In fact, when food is not abundant (and temperatures are colder) snakes can slow down their metabolism (body movement) until more food is available.

The Biggest Snake in the World

It is always fun to know which animals are the biggest, fastest, slowest, longest, etc. When it comes to snakes, there are some fun “snake” facts that make this creature quite interesting. For instance, the biggest snakes in the world are anacondas. They live in South America and can grow to be 30-feet-long and weigh over 400 pounds. Anacondas live and hunt mostly in the water. They are constrictors, which means they wrap their bodies around their prey and squeeze it to death. Once the anaconda has killed its prey, it then swallows the creature whole. Anacondas can eat white-tailed deer, pigs, large rodents, fish, and other creatures. They usually do not attack humans, but on rare occasions, some anacondas have done so.

The Longest Snake in the World

While you might think that the biggest snake would be the longest, that is not true. Even though anacondas are the thickest snakes in the world and can weigh the most, they are not the longest. The longest snake in the world is the reticulated python. The reticulated python gets its name from the pattern of lines on its back. The longest one ever measured was 33-feet-long. Reticulated pythons can eat animals as large as sheep, pigs, or dogs. They can also go long periods without eating anything. One reticulated python that lived in a zoo went almost 2 whole years without eating anything. These huge snakes can grow to be longer than anacondas, but their girth (how thick their bodies get) is smaller.

The Fastest Snake in the World

You would need a very special pair of running shoes to get away from the black mamba, the fastest moving snake in the world. Black mambas live in Africa. They can grow to be over 10-feet-long. Oddly enough, they are not always black. They are sometimes grayish or olive. They are called black mambas because the insides of their mouths are black. These super-fast slitherers can race up to speeds of 7-12 miles per hour. They are excellent tree climbers and are the second longest venomous snakes in the world.

The Longest Venomous Snake in the World

Most of us have seen the king cobra. In movies, snake charmers often charm the king cobra. It is recognized by the broad, flaring skin around its neck that spreads out when it raises itself off the ground. A very small amount of venom from this creature can kill an adult elephant or several people. It can grow to be over 18-feet-long, which makes it the longest venomous snake in the world.

Snakes are amazing creatures designed by the most brilliant Designer—God. God gave snakes remarkable abilities that humans can observe and study. As we study these astounding creatures, we realize that they could not have evolved over millions of years. They were intentionally designed. Let’s remember to thank God for His sensational slithering snakes.



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