There’s no doubt about it, there are some weird animals out there! In today’s article, we take a look at 10 of the strangest slithering reptiles we call snakes. Be warned, this one is not for the squeamish!
From the spiky snake to the hairy bush viper, the eastern hog-nosed snake, to the queen snake, snakes come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. These sinister-looking creatures are famed and often feared throughout the world for their appearance and their deadly reputations.
Living up in the mountains and deep in the seas, in hot climates and in cold ones too, there are over 2,900 snakes in the world. The only continent where they can’t be found is in Antarctica.
You might argue that all snakes are pretty weird to some degree. The forked tongue, scales, and dragon-like eyes are more akin to something out of a storybook. However, there are some interesting snakes that just take ‘weird’ to new levels.
Always interesting, mostly cool and sometimes just plain odd, read on to find out about the ten weirdest snakes found across the world.
10. Flying Snake
If you are in South-East Asia, you might be lucky enough to spot a flying snake high up in the trees. From Vietnam to Sri Lanka, flying snakes use the ridged scales on their bellies to climb trees. Although flying snakes can release venom, it is only dangerous to the small lizards, rodents, frogs, birds and bats that they eat.
Also known as gliding snakes, there are five different types of flying snakes. However, there is little to fear because they only have tiny fangs at the back of their mouths.
Now for the flying!
Choosing trees with rough bark, flying snakes climb up to the top of trees, by pushing their scales up the rugged surface. Once it reaches the end of a branch, this cool snake will dangle from the tip, by its tail. With a sudden jolt, it will take off by forming its body into a j-shape, then pushing up and over.
For a better flight, a flying snake flattens its whole body until it is doubled in width, by sucking in its abdomen and pushing out its ribs. To stay in control during flight, these cool-looking snakes use a non-stop wiggling movement, called a serpentine movement to fly as far as 100m.
Their ‘flying’ ability is so good, that it beats the capabilities of flying squirrels and lots of other animals that can glide across the jungle’s canopy.
9. Queen Snake
Found in North America, from western New York to northern Florida, the queen snake (or also spelled as just one-word queensnake) is a small, fussy snake. You will only find it in places with clean running water, with a temperature of at least 10°C. With water pollution on the rise, sadly this does mean that queen snakes are becoming harder to find.
If they feel threatened, rather than bite, a queen snake will release a hideous odor from its tail or dispose of foul-smelling dung.
Queen snakes have many different names including the striped water snake, leather snake, and the willow snake.
Queen snakes mainly eat crayfish. They choose crayfish that have just molted because the molting means that they can’t use their pincers to defend themselves properly.
Now, these weird snakes don’t spot their food using amazing sight, they smell….with their tongues! Needing a system that still works when they are underwater, queen snakes catch the scent of their prey on their tongues, then receptors in their mouths are used to identify the smell.
But they are not top dog all year round.
Weirdly, whilst hibernating during the winter, baby queen snakes, and sometimes even adult ones, become prey for crayfish!
A risky snake, queen snakes like to sunbathe! When it is hot, they lie on branches and roots, leaving them at risk from predators such as raccoons, otters, and hawks. They might be brave, but they’re not stupid!
Whilst lying in the sun, they stay close to the water’s edge. At the slightest hint of danger, queen snakes drop back into the water for protection.
8. Hairy Bush Viper
Taking its name from its distinctive rough scales, the hairy bush viper is a super spiky cool snake with a deadly venom. It’s not actually a furry snake like the name suggests, you definitely don’t want to pet one anyway! Found in central Africa, this small snake likes to lie in the flowers and leaves at the tops of plants.
Like the flying snake, it uses its spiky scales to help it to climb up plants. Nocturnal, the hairy bush viper eats mammals, frogs, and lizards.
The deadly venom of this cool snake attacks the central nervous system causing multiple organ failure. Without adequate medical attention and anti-venom, the bite from this spiky snake is fatal to humans.
It is also known as a rough-scaled bush viper, spiny bush viper and a hairy viper.
7. Spider-tailed Horned Viper
Unless you are in western Iran, you won’t see this one. Native to western Iran, this weird-looking snake gets its name from the long scales hanging from the end of its tail.
The spider-tailed horned viper’s deceptive tail looks like a spider from afar. The weird tail finishes with a tip shaped like a bulb, surrounded by a group of long scales that look like a spider. When confused birds arrive to eat what they think is a spider, the viper strikes them with a deadly blow.
6. Milk Snake
This cool looking snake stays safe because of its colorful skin. The milk snake tricks predators into thinking that it is the deadly coral snake or a range of other killer snakes that look just like it, such as pygmy rattlers.
Milk snakes though are harmless. Found across the U.S., South America, and southern Canada, they travel along the ground during the night-time, blending in with the debris.
Their food of choice are rodents, but they also eat birds, eggs, reptiles, and amphibians.
The weirdest thing about the milk snake is that they are said to suck the milk from a cow’s udders!
However, as you would imagine this is completely false because there is no way that a milk snake could suck from a cow!
The truth behind the myth is that these unique snakes like to live in, and around barns. Dark and cool, they don’t choose barns because of the cows, as the myth suggests, instead, it is because barns always have lots of rodents around.
5. Black Mamba
Not only is this a super long snake, the black mamba also has one of the deadliest bites in the world. Black mambas have been known to reach up to 4.5m in length. Found throughout much of the south and eastern parts of the African continent, black mambas are one of the fastest snakes in the world (We recently listed the other fastest animals in another post).
Black mambas can reach speeds of around 7 mph. They have to be one of the coolest animals around because hardly any animals are brave enough to try and eat them.
The weird thing is that although the black mamba has a particularly vicious method of attack, it runs away from humans! If a black mamba senses danger, it will zoom off into nearby shrubbery or a hole. Unless it is chasing prey, it will only attack if its escape route is blocked.
This unique snake puts on a terrifying display when attacking its prey. Open-mouthed, with a hood formed from its neck flap, it hisses and flicks its tongue.
If a human comes within 40 meters of a black mamba, it will receive the same warning. However, if the human is unlucky enough to make a sudden movement from this far away, the black mamba will attack.
Strong enough to raise almost half of its body above the ground, black mambas can bite animals and humans at a great height. Able to attack from far away, a blow from this interesting snake is accompanied by lots of bites, one after the other, which can cause multiple organ failure.
The other odd fact about black mambas is that they are not actually black, they range in tone from brown to khaki. However, as they get older their color darkens- although none are black!
4. Tentacled Snake
With two sensory tentacles on its snout, the tentacled snake is a really weird-looking sea snake. The only snake of its kind, tentacled snakes can be found all over Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. These little, dark fish-eating snakes like to hide in muddy streams, lakes, rice paddies and sometimes in parts of the sea.
Spending their entire life in the water, tentacled snakes are not dangerous to humans because their venom is only poisonous to the fish that they eat. They can last for thirty minutes underwater, before coming up for air, but their preferred posture is to hang, head-first, down into the water, forming their body into an upside-down j-shape.
Tentacled snakes use a weird method to capture passing fish.
When fish pass a tentacled snake hanging in the water, it dives down and moves around in the water to scare the fish. As the fish panics, it makes itself into an instinctive c-shape, natural to most fish, so that it can swim away. However, the tentacled snake is lying in wait, and grabs the fish by the head, as it swims in the opposite direction. The tentacled snake’s ability to know the direction of the fish’s escape route is completely innate.
3. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
The eastern hog-nosed snake gets its name from its weird upturned snout. These unusual snakes come in many different colors, ranging from red to green, orange, brown and grey, and can be found all over North America. It is also known as the spreading adder, black adder, rock adder or deaf adder.
Not only does the eastern hog-nosed snake have a weird upturned nose that it uses for digging in the sand, it also has the weirdest teeth.
Positioned at the back of the hog-nosed snake’s mouth, these long fangs release venom to poison their prey. They are also used to pop their favorite food – toads; so that they are easier to eat! Their poison is specifically suited to the amphibians that they like to eat, so they are not dangerous to humans.
Eastern hog-nosed snakes are sometimes called spreading adders or flat-headed adders because if they sense danger, they flatten their necks and lift their heads up. Although they will hiss and strike any threats, weirdly, they don’t bite. The next level of their defense is to play dead!
They will lie on their backs, stick out their tongue and give off an awful stench!
2. Gaboon Viper
Found in the jungles of many parts of the African continent, this weird-looking snake has a triangular-shaped head, a heavy body, and long fangs.
Its other more unusual names include the forest puff adder, the butterfly adder, swampjack, and whisper.
Weighing up to 11kg, with fangs as long as 5.5 cm, it has horns between its nostrils and big, roving eyes. This is not the sort of snake that you want to come across in the jungle. Gaboon vipers are so big that they can even eat fully grown rabbits.
Preferring to come out at night, the gaboon viper is a slow snake, that spends much of its time lying still, waiting for unsuspecting prey. Although when they do attack, they have one of the quickest and accurate strikes of any snake.
Weirdly, though they are such a fearsome-looking snake, they rarely bite or hiss, even if touched by humans.
When a gaboon viper senses danger, it emits a weird rhythmic low, long hiss whilst flattening its head after each breath. Despite this display of power, it is unusual for a gaboon viper to follow it up with an attack.
1. Asian Vine Snake
Thin and green, with a long thin snout, Asian vine snakes live in rainforests across Asia. Also known as the long-nosed whip snake, it is known to aim for the eyes of an opponent during an attack, using its long nose to reach the eyes.
Their vibrant yellowy-green color and flat, pointed heads, help them to camouflage. These cool looking snakes prefer to eat lizards but also feast on frogs and rodents.
If under attack, the Asian vine snake can change the color of its skin!
When it perceives a threat, this weird snake opens its mouth as wide as possible, whilst stretching its skin until it changes from bright green, to green with black and white markings – confusing its attacker.
Its fangs are in a weird position. Positioned at the very back of its jaw, the Asian vine snake has to chew its prey before any venom is released.
Completely weird, but totally fascinating, these are some of the weirdest snakes in the world.
Have you come across any other weird and wonderful animals? It could be a snake or something else. Tell us about it below. We always want to know about weird and wonderful stuff from around the world!
If you enjoyed this article you’ll love reading our post on weird birds next!
Image Source:By Rushenb – Own work