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Giant Snakes - Essay Example

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Python and boa are two giant snakes. In general, snakes, as defined in the dictionary, are legless, scaly reptiles with a long tapering cylindrical body belonging to the suborder of Ophidians. Through their remarkable diversity, their astonishing behavioral attitudes, python and boa striking capacity to survive in varied, sometimes hostile environments and the ability of some to produce venom, snakes constitute a world to which many biologists have devoted their lives…
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Giant Snakes

Download file to see previous pages... Boa belongs to Squamata order and Boidae family. Boa is found in Madagascar, Papua and the Pacific islands. The remarkable feature of this giant snake is its color. "Boa constrictors are pinkish or tan in color, with dark crossbands. They range in length is from 20 inches (50 cm) as neonates to 13 feet (3.9 m) as adults" (Boa 2007). The most colorful snakes are found in Amazon basin. The female are larger than male species. Pythons belong to Pythoninae subfamily, Boidae family. Pythons can be found in the tropics of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Similar to boas their females are larger than males (Mattison 87).
The movement of both giant snakes looks magical. Though they have no legs, snakes can move fast and quite efficiently in all sorts of situations. Their long backbones comprise of between 100 and 400 vertebrae and, with a very special arrangement of muscles, they can adopt several efficient modes of locomotion and, furthermore, can switch virtually instantaneously from one to another. During this elegant side-to-side undulation, each part of the body passes across the same spot on the surface. There is also the concertina-type movement consisting of anchoring one part of the body on the substratum while the rest of it is either pulled or pushed along, clearly an efficient strategy when moving through narrow tunnels. Boas and pythons use the side-winding motion on moderately rugged surfaces, including unstable sand dunes. Pythons "coil themselves around their prey and with each breathe the creature takes the snake will squeeze a little tighter until they stop breathing completely" (Pythons 2007).
Diet and Reproducing
Pythons and boas can survive without food during a year. "Boa feeds on large lizards, small or moderate-sized birds, opossums, bats, mongooses, rats, and squirrels. It is a nocturnal hunter and uses its heat-sensitive scales to locate its prey" (Boa 2007). The main difference between boa and python is that pythons lay eggs while boas produce living boas. The female Python protects her eggs by coiling round them, and at this time her temperature rises several degrees, probably to promote hatching.

Body Temperature and Vision
Their body temperature depends on the environment, so they are said to be ectothermic. They regulate their body temperature by exploiting various behavioral attitudes such as warming themselves in the sun. Boas and pythons even seek warmth at night and, in tropical regions, they often rest on tracks which have accumulated heat during the day. In excessive heat, as in some deserts, they cool themselves by burrowing into the sand, leaving their eyes just above the ground (Mattison 2007). They are also able to adjust their body temperature by living nocturnally or diurnally or, in cold conditions, by hibernating in deep holes. Boas and pythons have classical senses: sight, smell, touch, probably taste (as suggested by the presence of taste buds in some snakes but not demonstrated in all) and hearing. With no movable eyelids, protection for their eyes is provided by a fixed transparent shield which is shed together with the whole skin during sloughing. Though vision in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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