What do you know about snakes?

Green snake
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Snakes have always had a bad rap — even before St. Patrick "banished" these slithering reptiles from Ireland. Do you know your stuff when it comes to snakes? Find out!

Question 1 of 15

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Snake with triangular head
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If a snake's head is triangular, it's safe to assume the snake is:

Venomous snakes usually have a triangular, or arrow-shaped, head. Interestingly, some harmless snakes can flatten their heads to appear venomous.

Question 2 of 15

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Boa constrictor
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True or false: Snakes keep diseases in check.

Thanks to snakes, rat populations (which spread disease like wildfire) are regulated, controlling the spread of disease in the surrounding area.

Question 3 of 15

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Snake with round pupil
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A centered, round pupil means that a snake is likely:

Venomous snakes have cat-like pupils. If you’re close enough to see the eyes of a snake, check also for a hole either between its eyes and nostrils or beside its eyes. These sensory ‘pits’ help venomous snakes locate prey.

Question 4 of 15

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Snake in the water
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True or false: The presence of snakes indicates an ecosystem in decline.

Snakes are keystone predators, meaning the more the better: they’re presence shows that there are plenty of critters to be eaten. But here's one exception: invasive species (like Burmese pythons) are eating their way through Florida's Everglades.

Question 5 of 15

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How can you tell if a snake is venomous just by looking at its shed skin?

Venomous snakes have a single row of scales underneath their tails (as shown in the photo), while non-venomous snakes have two rows. 

Question 6 of 15

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True or false: Lightning strikes kill more people each year than snake bites.

According to data from the University of Florida, you’re “nine times more likely to die from being struck by lightning than to die of a venomous snakebite.” On average, 54 people in the U.S. die from lightning strikes each year, while six die from snake bites. Thanks, modern medicine.

Question 7 of 15

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What percentage of all snakes are venomous?

A relatively small percentage of all snakes are venomous, and less than 1 percent of venomous snake bites in the U.S. end up being deadly.

Question 8 of 15

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Snake biting a hand
True or false: Snakes can choose whether or not they will inject their venom into you.

Snakes have venom glands that they can control with muscles. It is possible to get a ‘dry bite’ from a venomous snake — the coral snake, for example, only injects venom half of the time.

Question 9 of 15

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Snake sign
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In Chinese astrology, the snake represents:

People who are born during the Year of the Snake (as in 2013) are said to be enchanting, introspective, calculated and cerebral. They tend to find wealth easily.

Question 10 of 15

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Rattlesnake coiled to strike
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True or false: A snake can only strike from a coiled position.

While coiling can help a snake’s strike go farther, snakes don’t have to be coiled up to get a good chomp. Some species, like cottonmouths, can even bite underwater.

Question 11 of 15

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St. Patrick driving away the snakes
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How did Saint Patrick famously rid Ireland of snakes?

St. Patrick chased away the symbolic snakes of the pagans through his missionary work. Despite the myth, Ireland has never had a snake problem. The slithering critters have never lived on the island.

Question 12 of 15

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When a snake sticks out its tongue at you, what is it doing?

Snakes’ smelling organs are located inside their mouths, so they use their tongues to test the air.

Question 13 of 15

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Black mamba
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True or false: The black mamba can kill a human in less than 30 minutes.

One of the deadliest snakes, the black mamba has neurotoxic venom and — terrifyingly — can move as fast as 12 miles an hour.

Question 14 of 15

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Black, yellow and red striped snake
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Is this a photo of a milk snake (harmless) or a coral snake (venomous)?

These two snakes feature the same colors, but in different patterns. In this case, it definitely pays to take a second glance! Remember this mnemonic: “Red next to black is a friend of Jack; red next to yellow will kill a fellow.”

Question 15 of 15

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True or false: All snakes reproduce by laying eggs.

While most snakes lay eggs, some species give birth to live young.