The term snake refers to any of a large group of reptiles of the taxonomic suborder Serpentes having no arms or legs. They may range in size anywhere from the size of a pencil to almost 40 feet in length. Snakes are widely kept as pets or as performing animals. They tend to find their way into dark and secluded spots, however (the better to avoid predation or to ambush their prey), so care should always be exercised, as the situation may require, to avoid problems arising from disturbing a hidden snake.
Types of snakes
All snakes are carnivores, but there are two main groups. So-called venomous snakes have modified salivary glands that secrete a venom which may have a number of varied effects depending on the species of snake, such as lowered blood pressure, hemophilia, or rhabdomyolysis (muscular necrosis). A misnomer is that snakes are poisonous as the word poisonous relates to the effect of eating the animal and all snakes are edible. A relatively small group of venomous snakes is particularly dangerous to man. The constrictors, on the other hand, crush the life out of their prey by wrapping their body around it and constricting-- the effect of this is unknown but is believed to either prevent the victim from breathing until it suffocates or cut off the flow of blood around the body and specifically to the brain causing cardiac arrest or brain aneurysm.
Snakes typically only need to feed once in a great while, as they expend no energy in maintaining a body temperature, and their movements tend to be slow and deliberate most of the time.
Snakes as characters
The snake itself is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols. Some snakes serve as positive symbols with whom it is possible to identify or to sympathize; in other instances, snakes serve as negative symbols, representing opponents or antagonists of figures or principles with which it is possible to identify. An example of a snake used as a positive symbol is Mucalinda, the king of snakes who shielded the Buddha from the elements as the Buddha sat in meditation. An example of a snake used as a negative symbol is the snake who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, as described in the Book of Genesis.
Because of the Biblical portrayal, as well as other roles in popular cultural myths, such as ancient Babylonian and Greek mythology, snakes are typically seen as the negative symbol and thus as villainous characters. As such, today, snakes find themselves in common roles of villains, often deceitful and cunning. One example of such characters is the snake Kaa from Disney's adaptation of the book The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (in the book, Kaa is a positive symbol and a teacher). There was also a snakelike gargoyle on Disney's Gargoyles in the episode called "The Green" (season 2, episode #51). In the furry fandom and elsewhere, snake fursonas are uncommon, often because of the non-morphic nature of the animal, making it a matter of some imagination as to how much the human "template" ought to influence the snake's unique form. One such example of how this could occur would be the Yuan-Ti, a race of snake-human hybrids unique to the fantasy realm of Faerun. They are classified under three different types depending upon the extent of their serpentine attributes with Abominations being the most snakelike, Purebloods next and half-breeds being the least snakelike.
Fictional snake characters
- Viper (Kung Fu Panda)
- Sir Hiss (Robin Hood)
- Lyric the Last Ancient (Sonic Boom)
- Lord Mordred Hood (Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog)
- Queen Orial/The Dark Queen (Argai: The Prophecy)
- Lord Hebi (Usagi Yojimbo)