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Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Pet Snake?

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 28 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Pet Snake?

Snakes are one of the most popular of exotic pets, but from the Book of Genesis to more modern appearances in the likes of “Snakes on a Plane”, it’s pretty clear that they haven’t always enjoyed the best PR in the world!

When it comes to these intriguing and largely inoffensive creatures, it’s often hard to separate fact from fiction – largely because there are just so many stories out there.

So, why not try our quick quiz and see how much of a myth-busting snake-expert you are?

Good luck; it won't take you very long and the quiz answers are at the bottom.

1. They say that if you try to outstare a snake, it’ll never blink; that bit is absolutely true; it won’t – but why not?

  • a) It’s simply too short sighted to notice what you’re up to.
  • b) It won’t because it’s trying to hypnotise you.
  • c) It has no eyelids.

2. Your snake’s eyes have suddenly gone all milky. What’s the most likely reason?

  • a) It’s shortly going to shed its skin.
  • b) It’s picked up a parasite infection.
  • c) It’s suffering from a selenium deficiency.

3. Why does your pet flick its tongue in and out?

  • a) It’s the sting and it’s preparing to bite.
  • b) It’s “tasting” the air.
  • c) It shouldn’t; if it’s doing that, it’s ill.

4. Why would an Inland Taipan Oxyuranus microlepidotus be an impossible pet to keep?

  • a) It’s extinct! They died out in the wild in 1897 and the last one in captivity died 6 years later.
  • b) It’s the most venomous land snake in the world.
  • c) It only eats Australian witchetty grubs, so it would be impossible to arrange a food supply.

5. All snakes are deaf – or are they?

  • a) Yes, absolutely, they’re all stone deaf.
  • b) They all deaf except for cobras, which can hear the sounds made by snake charmers’ flutes.
  • c) Snakes aren’t actually deaf – it’s a myth like as “blind as a bat” or as “bald as a badger”.

6. Where is your snake’s Jacobson’s organ – and how is it used?

  • a) It is the name given to the pits along some snakes’ lips that help them sense heat.
  • b) It is located in front of your pet’s tail and is used during mating.
  • c) It is in the roof of your pet’s mouth and it is used in tasting/smelling the air.

7. How easy is it to incubate Boa Constrictor eggs in captivity?

  • a) Completely impossible.
  • b) Very difficult – they need precisely controlled conditions to hatch.
  • c) No more difficult than the eggs of any other snake species.

8. How long could a pet corn snake live if properly cared for?

  • a) 1 – 2 years
  • b) 15 – 20 years
  • c) 40 – 50 years

9. Do some snakes really still have legs?

  • a) Well, sort of – pythons and boas have spurs either side of their vents and internally they have tiny remnants of hind leg bones.
  • b) No; you must be getting confused with the likes of skinks – burrowing lizards that have very small legs.
  • c) Yes, most snakes have internal legs – you just can’t see them unless you x-ray the animal.

10. Strange though it sounds, a snake’s heart is adapted to help it feed. How?

  • a) The snake can stop its heart from beating so the sound doesn’t alert its prey.
  • b) It can be safely moved aside by food passing through the snake’s gut, avoiding damage to the organ.
  • c) It has six chambers to improve blood oxygenation and allowing the snake able to strike its prey quickly.

Quiz Answers

1. The idea that snakes hypnotise their prey is a fairy-story and while it is true that most snakes are fairly short-sighted, the real reason is (c) – they have no eyelids.

2. The answer’s (a) – it’ll be shedding fairly soon.

3. The whole “forked-tongue-is-a-sting” thing is an age-old myth – the answer is, of course , (b) it’s tasting the air and it’s a perfectly normal sign of a healthy snake taking an interest in its surroundings.

4. Also known as the Fierce Snake, the Taipan is the world’s most venomous land snake, making the answer (b).

5. It’s (a). They are all completely deaf, although they can feel vibrations through their bodies.

6. Although many colubrid species possess specialised organs around their vents that are used in mating and some other snakes, including pit vipers and pythons, do have infra-red sensors located in pits in their lips to help them hunt prey, the answer is (c). The Jacobson’s – or vomeronasal – organ is in the roof of your pet’s mouth and it is used in tasting/smelling the air; it’s where the snake’s tongue deposits the scent molecules it picks up with all that tongue flicking.

7. It’s (a) completely impossible. Boas don’t lay eggs, they give birth to live young – so well done if you spotted that this was a trick question and give yourself a bonus point!

8. Properly cared for, a corn snake can live for 15 – 20 years in captivity; answer (b).

9.(a) Pythons and boas are a really old group of snakes and, amazingly, they still have the remnants from the days when their ancestors had legs.

10. It’s (b) – a snake’s heart can be moved aside by the food travelling through the reptile’s gut. It is an adaptation to allow the animal to safely consume large prey animals without damaging its own circulatory system.

Go on then – how did you do? Whether you knew it all and got your bonus point for spotting that trick question too, or you’ve just learnt something new as a result, one thing’s for sure, snakes are fascinating creatures to keep. Enjoy keeping yours!

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