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What is the difference between a snake and a serpent?

What is the difference between a snake and a serpent?

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Have you ever stopped to think about the difference between a snake and a serpent? Many people think it is just a synonym. Although these terms have a direct relationship, in reality they do not have exactly the same meaning, and can be used with different intent.

What is a snake?

The term “serpent” is used in a more technical and general way, intended to describe all members of the suborder. The order of snakes belongs to the order Squamate, which includes all squamate reptiles, including snakes and lizards. In other words: it is a large group of animals, and the snake is just one of the members of this group.

The snake is characterized by an elongated body without limbs. Within this suborder there are many different families and species, which can be found in different types of environments, whether in water, on land, buried in the ground or even in trees.

Members of the order Serpent

The suborder includes the families:

  • Elapidae, which includes sea snakes and eels (eels);
  • Viperidae, which includes vipers;
  • Boidain The family to which boas belong;
  • Colubridae, a large family of snakes, which we will talk about next.
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So, to fit the term “snake”, it would have to be a reptile without legs for walking, have scales and some specific abilities, such as stomach expansion.

What is a snake?

While snakes represent a broader term, cobras are a family within the snake order called Culpriidae. In other words, all types of snakes are also snakes.

It is worth noting that in most contexts, the two terms are interchangeable, i.e. they can function as synonyms – in fact, they are presented as such in the Portuguese language dictionary. But, scientifically, there are taxonomic differences between them.

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Every snake is a snake, but not every snake is a snake; Pictured is a green snake (Photo: Sagar Paranjape/Unsplash)

Taxonomy is the branch of biology that classifies animals into kingdoms, phyla, class, order, family, genus, and species.

What happens is that family Culpriidae They are the largest subgroup of all snakes, which ends up confusing terminology and making people think they are the same thing. To give you an idea, there are about 1,800 species of snakes! Most do not contain venom, and the few venomous species do not have an effective device to inject the substance when bitten.

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Some examples of well-known snakes are:

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  • Kaninana (Spelotis bolatus);
  • Water snakes (Humble Helicopters and Leophis miliaris);
  • Pantanal Sorococo (Hydrodenastes gigas);
  • Vine snake (Cheroneus xoletus).

Are snakes poisonous and snakes are not?

It is a common mistake to think that the distinction between a snake and a cobra comes from the venom. Many believe that the snake is capable of producing venom, but the snake is not. However, the distinction in terms of poison is not precise.

This confusion occurs because most types of poisonous snakes belong to this family ElapidaeWhile there are many snakes in the family Culpriidae They are not toxic. But it would be wrong to say that this is a rule. Although they do not have an effective injection tool like those of snakes, there are many species of venomous snakes.

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So the trick to understanding the difference between a serpent and a serpent is this: every serpent is a serpent, but a serpent is not necessarily a serpent (although in most cases it is).

did you see? Now you know the technical difference between the two terms! To summarize: snakes are a suborder of the order Lepidoptera, and snakes are a family within the order Snakes! Every snake is a snake, but the opposite is not true.

source: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, nature