Do You Think You're a Snake Expert? Take This Quiz to See if You Really Are

Zoe Samuel

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Snakes: love them or hate them, they are endlessly fascinating. These legless residents of our planet have had a pretty bad reputation in many cultures. It's not just that a large percentage of them are venomous or stranglers, it's also that in Abrahamaic tradition, they're literally responsible for the fall of mankind from the Garden of Eden. That is, God is said to have taken their legs off as punishment for tricking humanity into eating the fruit of the Forbidden Tree.

What's interesting about this story is that it has a certain accuracy to it. Snakes probably evolve from an ancestor that had legs, probably some kind of burrowing lizard. Since then, snakes have diverged into more than 3,000 separate species, some absolutely harmless and others extremely dangerous. Some are quite scary to look at while others are pretty darn cute. It's important to be able to tell the bad from the good, for your safety and that of the more benign snakes who play a useful role in ecosystems. After all,  you certainly don't want to kill an innocent garter snake because you've mistaken it for a ribbon snake. So let's see how much you know about our scaly friends!

How can you tell the difference between ribbon snakes and garter snakes?

It's common for gardeners and farmers to mistake a garter snake for a ribbon snake. The garter snake is helpful at keeping grasshoppers at bay by eating them. The eastern ribbon snake eats "cold-blooded" prey, including fish, newts and salamanders, frogs (both adults and tadpoles), earthworms, spiders, caterpillars, and a great variety of other insects.

What is unique about the Egyptian Cobra?

The threatening full hood and intimidating upright posture make the Egyptian Cobra look bigger and more formidable an opponent than one slithering on the floor. Although one of the most iconic snakes on Earth, don't get too close! Their venomous bite can kill you.

What does rattlesnake taste like?

“Rattlesnake tastes, when breaded and fried, like a sinewy, half-starved tilapia,” according to The New York Times. The experience is similar to eating a bony fish. And we all thought the answer would be chicken!

How fast can a sidewinder move?

The sidewinder slithers rapidly along the desert dunes reaching speeds up to 18 miles per hour! Their very special gait enables only a small portion of skin to touch the hot desert sand at a time. The way it buries itself in the sand is even scarier.

How do a snake's jaws work?

Snakes' jaws are only connected by ligaments and both can hinge, to allow the snake to swallow stuff bigger than itself

What is the smallest snake?

This type of threadsnake was found in Barbados and is the girth of a noodle and only up to 4 inches long!

Which continent is the only one with no snakes?

Snakes can't live where there is no sun half the year - so Antarctica is no home for them!

What is the taxonomic classification of snakes?

Serpentes is a sub-order within the order of squamata. Snakes are vertebrates in the animalia kingdom.

How do snakes reproduce?

Most snakes lay eggs but those in colder places, where their eggs wouldn't survive, tend to bear live young. Snakes are generally not very involved parents.

What is the biggest snake?

There's another snake that's longer, but the green anaconda is twice the girth. They can grow to 550 pounds and 29 feet.

What is the distinctive feature of the cobra?

Cobras are recognizable by their hoods. The only one that does not have one is the coral snake, sometimes called the "American cobra."

What island is the only full country to not have any native snakes?

New Zealand is extremely paranoid about protecting native flora and fauna so they have kept snakes away!

What is the fear of snakes called?

Ophiophobia means the fear of snakes, and is related to herpetophobia, which is the fear of reptiles and amphibians.

By what name is the Brahminy Blind Snake also known?

This is a burrowing snake that lives mostly in soil. Their nickname comes from how they moved around the world in the plant trade, hiding in flowerpots. They really are blind and can be mistaken for large earthworms.

How many ribs do snakes have?

Snakes can have omore than 400 ribs, depending on their size. Their organs and muscles are lined up along their bodies in a row so they need ribs to protect them.

Which snake can strike the fastest?

All snakes strike pretty fast but the death adder is the fastest. It moves so rapidly that you can't see it with the naked eye.

What are the rattles on a rattleskin made of?

The rattles are actually made of keratin, the same stuff as hair and nails. Rattlesnakes accrue more rattles as they get older.

What is the most common snake in the USA?

The garter snake is technically a venomous one but its neurotoxin is mild and not harmful to humans.

Snakes grow new fangs all the time. How long is typical for them to keep a set?

Snakes are always getting new fangs, and keep them from six to ten weeks.

Below what temperature is it too cold for snakes to function well?

Snakes are reptiles so they have to bask to get energy from the sun. A nice warm rock is their ideal place for this. If it's too cold, they go into a state similar to hibernating, called "brumation."

Which is the only venomous snake with round pupils?

The coral snake is not actually very dangerous, but don't let its cute little face confuse you - it's still a bad thing to be bitten by one.

Which is the longest viper?

This snake hails from Central America and death by its venom is horrible, with nausea, vomiting, and extreme pain.

How might you recognize the Moorish viper?

This beautiful viper lives in rocky mountains and steppes, and is most active at sunset when it ambushes prey.

Can snakes hear?

Snakes have ears, they just don't stick out of their heads the way ours do!

Are snakes slimy to touch?

Snakes are nice and smooth to touch. Some of them have more ridges on their scales than others, but even the individual scales are smooth. Some snakes actually feel quite nice!

What field of science has as its symbol two snakes twined around a staff?

Snakes are the symbol of Asclepius, who is the Greek god of medicine.

At what age does a snake stop growing?

Snakes do grow slower as adults but they never actually stop.

Which country has the highest number of human deaths from snakebite?

About 50,000 Indians die from snakebites every year. Of course, that doesn't include stranglings, which thankfully are very rare.

How do snakes smell?

Snakes smell with their tongue. The fork helps them triangulate where smells are coming from so than can move toward their prey!

What percentage of snakes are venomous?

There are 3,000 snake species and roughly a third are venomous. However that doesn't mean they're deadly. Some have a milder poison.

Can a snake poison itself?

A snake can indeed poison itself if it accidentally misses and bites itself!

The common krait is one of the Big Four deadly snakes of India. Which of the snakes below is NOT one of the other three?

These four snakes are the biggest killers in India, and are considered extremely dangerous. If you're in the Indian countryside, learn to spot them!

What is the most toxic snake?

This snake is the most deadly in terms of needing the minimum amount of its venom to guarantee a human will die.

Which snake has the longest fangs?

This snake has the longest fangs, but not the longest relative to its head. That distinction belongs to the Russell's viper.

What is the longest snake?

It's so big that it can swallow a deer, or even a person!

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