The fear of snakes, ophidiophobia, is one of the most widespread phobias in the world. There are many types of harmless snakes, but the venom from some poisonous varieties can kill a person.
Adder, the name of several snakes, including many European vipers and harmless North American snakes.
Anaconda, or Water Boa, a water snake of Central and tropical South America. Anacondas kill their prey, birds and small reptiles and mammals, by squeezing them until they suffocate, or by drowning them. The female anaconda retains her fertilized eggs in her body until they hatch. Ten to more than 70 young are born at a time. The giant, or green, anaconda averages about 17 feet (5 m) in length, but some individuals grow to more than 30 feet (9 m) long and are 3 feet (90 cm) around the middle. The giant anaconda is olive green with round black spots. The yellow anaconda is smaller than the giant anaconda. It is yellow-green with irregular black markings.
Asp, a name applied to several different species of poisonous snakes. The term is most commonly used to identify the Egyptian cobra and the horned viper, both of which are native to North Africa and adjacent southwestern Asia.
Black Snake, or Black Racer, a nonpoisonous snake native to the eastern US. It is a slender snake that reaches a length of five to six feet (1.5 to 1.8 m). The upper surface of the adult is shiny black and the lower surface is slate-colored. The black snake lives in hollow stumps and in holes of rock piles. It is a skilled climber, often reaching the tops of trees in search of birds. The black snake also feeds on insects, rodents, lizards and frogs. It is sometimes kept as a pet. The blue racer, a subspecies found in the Midwest, is blue with a white belly. ( The name black snake is also given to the pilot snake, or rat snake, which is similar in appearance and habits, but grows to a length of nine feet (2.7 m). The black snake is Coluber constrictor, blue racer. C. c.foxi ; pilot snake, Elaphe obsoleta. All belong to the family Colubridae. The red-bellied black snake belongs to the family Elapidae. It is Pseudechis porphyriacus.
Boa Constrictor, a large American snake related to the anaconda. Boa constrictors reach a maximum length of more than 18 feet (5.5 m), although most are less than 15 feet (4.6 m) long.
Bushmaster, a large poisonous snake found in the tropical parts of Central and South America. It belongs to the group known as pit vipers. These snakes have heat-sensitive pits on their faces that detect the body heat of nearby animals. Bushmasters are rather thick-bodied snakes that may grow to a length of 12 feet (3.7 m). The fangs are very long, sometimes more than one inch (2.5 cm), and inject poison deep into the body of a victim. The snake's body is tan or pinkish, patterned with a row of dark-banded markings on the back. Unlike other pit vipers, bushmasters reproduce by means of eggs. The bushmaster is Lachesis mutus of the pit viper family, Crotalidae.
Cobra, the common name for a group of poisonous snakes of Africa and southern Asia. The name comes from the Portuguese cobra de capello, meaning "hooded snake." When disturbed, the cobra assumes a position for attack by raising about a third of its body off the ground and inflates the neck into a hood. Cobras are poisonous, killing their prey with venom that is conducted through two short, hollow teeth called fangs. Most cobras feed at night on small mammals, birds, eggs, and frogs. Predators of the cobra are the kite (a hawklike bird) and the mongoose.
Coral Snake, a small poisonous snake of the Western Hemisphere. There are about 50 species. A coral snake has a cylindrical, neckless body marked with alternating broad bands of black and red separated by narrow bands of yellow. Adults are from two to five feet (0.6 to 1.5 m) long. Most species burrow in the ground. The snake will bite only if molested. The harlequin coral snake is found in the southeastern US; the Sonoran coral snake in Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona; and the South American coral snake in tropical South America. The harlequin coral snake is Micrurus fulvius; Sonoran, Micruroides euryxanthus; South American, Micrurus spixi. They belong to the family Elapidae. South American coral snakes are poisonous with red, black and yellow-white bands.
Garter Snake, a harmless snake found in the US, southern Canada and Mexico. Garter snakes are from two to four feet (60 to 120 cm) long. They are usually brownish or greenish, with three light stripes running the full length of their slender bodies. Some species are checkered between the stripes. Garter snakes are found in damp places, often in parks and gardens. They feed chiefly on field mice, insects, worms, toads and frogs. When caught, some garter snakes throw off a strong odor from their glands. The young are born alive, often 20 or more to a litter. Garter snakes belong to the genus Thamnophis of the family Colubridae.
Mamba, a poisonous snake of tropical and southern Africa. It is related to the cobra, but, unlike the cobra, cannot expand its neck into a hood. There are several species, the largest measuring about 14 feet (4.3 m) in length. Most mambas are green, marked with black or brown. They typically live in trees or bushes, travel rapidly and are aggressive. Their bites are usually fatal to humans. The largest and most feared species, the black mamba, is green when young, black in the adult stage. It is widely distributed. The smaller green mamba is found chiefly in the east and southeast. The black mamba is Dendroaspis polylepis; green, D. angusticeps. Mambas belong to the family Elapidae.
Python, a large, primitive snake of tropical Asia and Africa. Like the similar but unrelated boa constrictor of tropical America, the python has vestigial hind limbs that extend outside the body as a pair of short spurs. Unlike the boa, the python lays eggs, as many as 100 at a time, instead of bearing its young alive. Pythons are among the largest snakes in the world. The python is not poisonous. However, it can inflict a severe wound with its many long, sharp teeth. It eats birds and mammals, capturing its prey by biting and holding on, then swiftly looping itself around the victim. The snake tightens its coils until the prey, unable to breathe, dies of suffocation. (The python does not crush its prey.) The snake swallows its prey whole and rests for days while the meal is slowly digested. It can swallow creatures much larger than itself, because its skin is somewhat elastic and its jaws and ribs are hinged with tissue that stretches readily, permitting the mouth, throat and abdomen to expand.
Rattlesnake, a venomous snake having a rattle at the end of its tail. There are 42 species and subspecies of rattlesnakes. All are native to the Americas, where they range from southern Canada to Argentina. In the US, which is the home of 13 species, rattlesnakes are found in nearly every state. They are most numerous and varied in the Southwest and in northern Mexico.