Common Snake Myths
Truth: There is no such animal. In Texas, the Texas Rat Snake is commonly referred to as the Chicken Snake. Across the country, there are probably ten different species all referred to as the 'Chicken Snake' because they are frequently found in and about farms, usually feeding on the rodents found therein.
Western cottonmouth nest in large numbers.
Truth: While several may be found in a relatively small area, there is no social structure among snakes. They do not congregate together. If there are several in an area, it is because it is a good environment and has food enough to support many snakes.
Venomous snakes travel in pairs.
Truth: Snakes have no real social structure or interest in forming pair bonds. The only time they would be found in pairs is during breeding season or by pure coincidence that two happen to be in the same area.
Snakes are slimey.
Truth: A snake's skin is normally quite dry, and mostly smooth. Edges of the scales are sometimes a little rough.
A 'hoop snake' will put its tail in its mouth and roll after a person.
Truth: Some snakes have a habit of lying in a loose coil while basking, but no snake is anatomically designed to grasp its tail and roll.
Snakes have stingers on their tails
Truth: Many snakes have sharp, pointy tails, but the other end is the one that can bite.
Snakes sting with their tongues
Truth: Snakes smell/taste the world around them with their tongues, only fangs can deliver a venom.
You can tell the age of a rattlesnake by the number of rattles
Truth: A rattlesnake's rattle grows as they shed their skin. Sometimes they may shed often, other times they may not. There is no way to know how often they are shedding to determine age from the size of the rattle. Also, it is possible for the rattle to fall off and have to be started anew.
Snake hypnotize their prey
Truth: Snakes have no eyelids and thus can not blink. Some snakes will also rock their head from side to side to help their depth perception. Many prey species will freeze in place out of fear, or as a method of trying to not be seen by blending in.
Some snakes will suck milk from cows.
Truth: Many snakes will frequently be found in and around barns, because there are usually large numbers of rodents found there. Snakes, however, do not have the necessary mouth structure to suck anything, muchless milk from a cow, nor could they properly digest the milk.
Mother snakes swallow their young to protect them
Truth: There is little to no parental care in snakes at all. This myth probably started because some snakes will eat the young of other snakes, even their own species. Though, usually not their own brood.
Snakes will not cross a horse hair rope, because the rope's hairs will scratch the snake's belly uncomfortably.
Truth: Snakes crawl around on the ground all day, they crawl through cacti and over rocks. A simple rope is not going to faze them.
Snakes will chase people.
Truth: Snakes are not vengeful, they don't harbor any hate for humans, they just want to get away from you. If you happen to be
standing between them and their hiding place, you may find yourself in their path, but they are not interested in going after you.
Snakes must coil before they can strike.
Truth: A snake can bite from any position. Although, coiling up can extend their range, it is not necessary.
Coachwhip snakes will whip people to death.
Truth: Coachwhips do have a long whip-like tail, but they could not whip a person to death with it.
A bite from a kingsnake won't kill you, but it will make you sick.
Truth: Kingsnakes are a harmless species, which means they contain no venom. Aside from an allergy, unless you happen to get a secondary
infection, they will not make you ill.
Puff adders have poisonous breath.
Truth: The common name 'puff adder' is a misleading. In North America that name is frequently given to the hognosed snakes - which will puff themselves up and hiss, but are harmless to humans. There is also an African species with that name, but the chances of coming across one in the US are pretty slim, and while the snake is venomous, it does not have poisonous breath and must bite to cause any damage.
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