Factsss And Mythsss About Snakes

Today, February 1st, is National Serpent Day! Snakes have been much maligned throughout history. This is a great chance to ‘shed’ some light on our slithering friends, clear up misconceptions, and spread awareness of the benefits they provide. A Lexington, KY vet discusses these beautiful, scaled animals below.


Snakes have appeared in myths and legends since the beginning of recorded history. There are some pretty wild superstitions about them. One fierce legendary snake is Jormungand, the Viking sea serpent. From Mesopotamia, we have Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent. A mix of bird and rattlesnake, Quetzalcoatl was the god of wind and rain, as well as learning, agriculture and science. Then there are the Gorgons from Greek mythology, who had snakes for hair. And from Chinese mythology, we have the legend of the White Snake, an underwater serpent who took human form.


Mythic ones aside, real snakes are also very fascinating. Our scaled pals can slither up to 12 miles an hour, and use their forked tongues to taste the air. They have been around for over 142 million years, and are kept as pets in about 1.1 million households. They’re also great rodent control!


There are also many snake superstitions. One old Australian legend states that the Hoop Snake will bite its own tail, form a hoop, and roll downhill. Another old wives’ tale notes that if you leave a bowl of milk out, it will draw snakes to your place. (It may attract flies, but snakes aren’t going to be interested.)


In between fact and fiction, there are also many misconceptions about snakes. For instance, it’s commonly believed that rattlesnakes will always rattle before striking. This actually isn’t the case. Another popular belief about the rattlesnake is that you can tell their age by counting rattles. Aside from the fact that it’s a very, very bad idea to try and get close enough to count, this is also wrong. The rattles are actually formed when a snake sheds, which can happen several times a year. Plus, older segments also tend to break off. Of course, the biggest misconception about snakes is that they are all aggressive. Most snakes are actually very shy, and are probably more scared of you than you are of them.

Do you have questions about snake care? Contact us, your Lexington, KY veterinary clinic, today!

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