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As one of the most varied vertebrates on our planet - there are approximately 3,000 species of snakes spread across every continent except Antarctica - snakes display an array of sizes and colors.  However, all are immediately recognized by their long, narrow, legless shape.

 

Unique Jaw

A snake’s jaw lacks a chin bone and is separated into 4 movable quadrants that are attached by ligaments. This gives a snake the ability to swallow prey much larger than itself – as the chin stretches away from each quadrant, the lower jaw bone stretches away from the upper portion of the skull.

Fangs: There are three basal types of fang structure (venomous snakes).

Rear Fanged Snakes

Rear fanged snakes have enlarged teeth with grooves in the midline to back of the upper jaw.

Examples: Boomslangs, Hognose snakes

Front Fanged Snakes - Elapids

With enlarged fixed fangs at the front of the mouth, these snakes have a highly specialized venom delivery system. Their venom gland is positioned in a duct that runs to the top of the fang; as the snake bites, the group of muscles surrounding the venom gland compresses and squirts venom through the fangs.

Examples: Cobras, Mambas, Coral snake

Front Fanged Snakes - Movable

Considered the most evolved of all the reptilian venom delivery systems, these snakes are similar in design to the Elapids with a more defined hollowed out center of the fang. Their fangs are typically very large and fold up to the roof of the mouth when not in use, requiring the snake to open its mouth very wide to force the fangs to swing forward and protrude out in front of the mouth. Many Vipers have no need to bite, but rather stab a food item.

Examples: Gaboon Vipers, Puff Adders, Rattlesnakes

Snake Skin

Snakes have amazing skin - their scales can be smooth or rough and will typically have a dry texture (as opposed to the wet and slimy texture of amphibian skin). Most snakes also use specialized belly scales to travel and grip surfaces.

To get rid of old, worn skin, snakes remove their outer skin in one complete layer (much like a sock being turned inside out) in a process called moulting. Snake moulting is repeated periodically throughout a snake's life; although the number of sheds per annum depends largely on species, age, reproductive state, size, food availability, and injuries.

Since they have no eyelids, a snake’s eyes are also covered by scales – these transparent scales are known as “spectacle” scales or eyecaps.

Forked Tongue

Able to track prey or detect predators using their finely tuned sense of smell, a snake will use its forked tongue to collect airborne particles, giving them a directional sense of smell and taste. The tongue is constantly in motion, looking for prey or predators.

Snake Sense

Sensitive to vibration, a snake can sense an approach by detecting faint vibrations in the air or on the ground. Snakes lack external ears, but are believed to have internal hearing structure as a few studies show that snakes can in fact "hear."  This complex internal structure depends on airborne and ground vibrations - they travel to the inner ear, cause reverberations in the inner ear bones, and transfer sound.

Snake Diet

All snakes are carnivorous. They eat small animals including lizards, other snakes, small mammals, birds, eggs, fish, snails or insects.

Without the hunting prowess of these successful predators, humans would be in very serious trouble. For instance, snakes play an important role in controlling the rodent population, and large rodent populations can devastate crops and spread disease among humans and other animals.

Snake Size

Snakes can range in size from the tiny, 4-inch-long thread snake, to pythons and anacondas over 23 feet long!

Snake Venom

The most feared snakes, the legendary category of venomous snakes, comprises only 10% of the entire snake population.  Snake venom is designed for the killing of prey. Many of these venoms have evolved into a very effective means of defense as well:

 

  • Some snakes like the Spitting Cobras of Africa and Asia have developed adaptations that allow them to defensively spray venom into the eyes of an attacker.
  • A few of the best spitters can accurately spray venom 10-15 feet.

  

Visit our Sky Dome and head on up to the mezzanine level, where you’ll see some of the snakes on this list.  Want to learn more about these fascinating creatures?  Be sure to catch one of our Snake Shows where you and your family have an opportunity have an up-close-and-personal experience with Reptile Gardens' snake ambassadors.

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Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!