There are 3,400 snake species in the world. These slithering reptiles live everywhere except Antarctica.
Twenty-one of these species, two of which are poisonous, live in Wisconsin. These are the timber rattlesnake and the massasauga rattler. Because snakes are cold-blooded, they need the warmth of their environment to heat their bodies. The timber rattlesnake, in particular, uses a unique tactic to survive cold Wisconsin winters: it makes and burrows into underground holes. Here, the snake doesn’t feel as cold as it would if it were on the Earth’s cold surface. This explains why it is uncommon to see snakes in Wisconsin in the winter—they are typically only active in summer.
Snakes’ habitats influence their body compositions and diets. For example, some large snakes like the anaconda live in South America. Others like the cobra live in Africa and India. These dangerous snake species are especially threatening because they have larger fangs than most other snakes. While some snakes only eat smaller creatures—like rats and mice—these ferocious creatures consume a variety of bigger animals.
Though their body sizes, jaw structures, and diets vary, all snakes share certain characteristics. For instance, all snakes have a very smooth and dry skin, which they shed many times a year. Also, all snakes use their tongues to help improve their sense of smell. This is why they flicker their tongues: sensing tiny odor molecules with their tongues and raising them to their noses, snakes are able to gain a better understanding of their environment.
Now that it’s summertime, beware. You don’t want to run into one of these powerful snakes by accident!
[Source: Blue Sky Science and Snake: A Natural History]