Worldwide there are about 2700 different snake species from 11 families. In the United States we have around 115 species of snakes from 5 snake families, ranging from venomous to nonvenomous. If you are dealing with a snake problem, give Centurian Wildlife Services a call at 1-888-313-2842!

North America's Five Snake Families:


Most of the world’s snakes are what are referred to as clinically non-venomous. This means they do not produce a toxin that is clinically significant to people. However, many harmless-to-humans snakes, like Hognose snakes, Garter snakes and Rat snakes for example, do produce toxins that are scientifically or technically venomous.

Venomous Snakes

Venomous snakes are reptiles that produce a toxin in a specialized gland that possesses a specific venom delivery system, typically injected through fangs upon biting prey.

Many of the world's venomous snakes have venom that is straightforward and “easy” to treat effectively with the proper antivenoms - Mamba bites, for example. Other species may cause a clinical explosion of problems for which antivenoms are not very effective - some rattlesnake bites are this way.

The Snake's Unique Jaw

A snake’s jaw doesn't have a chin bone and is separated into 4 separate movable quadrants that are attached by ligaments. This gives a snake the ability to easily swallow prey much larger than itself because the chin stretches away from each quadrant and the lower jaw bone stretches away from the upper part of the skull.

Snake Skin

Snake scales can be smooth or rough and will typically feel dry (as opposed to the wet and slimy texture of amphibians). Most snakes use belly scales to travel and to grip surfaces.

To get rid of old skin, snakes remove their outer layer of skin in one complete layer (like turning a snake inside out) in a process called moulting. Snake moulting is repeated periodically throughout a snake's life; although the number of sheds per year depends largely on species, age, reproductive state, size, food availability, and injuries. Since they don't have eyelids, the snake’s eyes are also covered by scales – they are transparent scales known as “spectacle” scales or eyecaps.

Snake's Forked Tongue

Snakes are able to track prey or detect predators using their finely tuned sense of smell, and a snake will use its forked tongue to collect airborne particles, giving them a directional sense of smell and taste. The tongue is always in motion, looking for prey or predators.

Snake Senses

Sensitive to vibration, a snake can sense an approach by hearing for vibrations in the air or on the ground. Snakes lack external ears, but are believed to have internal hearing structure proving that snakes can in fact "hear". This complex internal structure depends on airborne and ground vibrations - the vibrations travel to the inner ear, cause reverberations in the inner ear bones, and then transfer sound.

Snake's Diet

Snakes eat meat. They eat small animals including lizards, other snakes, small mammals, birds, eggs, fish, snails or insects.

In fact, without the hunting powers of these successful predators, humans would be in trouble. For instance, snakes play an important role in controlling the rodent population, as large rodent populations can devastate crops and spread deadly diseases to humans and other animals.

Snake Size

Snakes can range in size from the 4-inch-long thread snake, to pythons and anacondas size---which are over 23 feet long.

Snake's Venom

Venomous snakes make up only 10% of the entire snake population. Snake venom is used to kill prey. Many of these venoms have evolved into a very effective means of defense as well:

Some snakes like the Spitting Cobras of African and Asia can defensively spray venom into the eyes of an attacker.

A few of the best spitters can spray venom 10-15 feet into the distance. If you are attacked by a snake, call a medical professional immediately.