Slithering is a movement of crawling along the belly and it has long been associated with snakes. It comes as no surprise that ‘Slytherin’ house in the Harry Potter series was represented by a snake. Many may not be aware that these slippery reptiles are not the only creatures that slither to get about.
Most legless reptiles will slither, but there are some legged reptiles that, among their other motility abilities, slither. However, there are other facts about animals that slither that are not related to movement, which makes these creatures even more fascinating. Here are a few of them.
Animals That Slither
First on the list of animals that slither are snakes, for obvious reasons. It has been discovered that what makes snakes so good at slithering is the lubricant. Yes, you read that right. The scales on the belly of a snake are covered in a coat of fatty cells that help the snake slip and slide over surfaces, including hot, hot sand!
However, did you know that snakes are also adept at swimming, climbing, and even ‘flying’? Yes, flying! in the forests of Indonesia, there are species of snake that fly. To get a better visual of how this is done, one must think of the swinging that monkeys do from tree to tree.
When airborne, the flight is facilitated by wind currents. The snake lunges itself from one tree to another, quickly wrapping its body over and around the branches as it lands, to slow its motion. The next time you think that only winged creatures have the capacity for flight, think again.
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Snails and Slugs
These slithering animals are mollusks, meaning they are in the same family as clams and oysters. They are often found in gardens and places where there is moisture, preferring to come out between dusk and dawn when temperatures are cooler.
Their bodies are covered in slime which enables them to not only slither from place to place, it also provides a barrier against sharp things such as twigs and rocks that may be on their path. This slimy coating is also useful in helping them find their way back home, a little like the Hansel and Gretel cookie crumb trail.
Snails and slugs live as communities and even forage and dine together. During mating, the garden slug will throw darts at the object of its affection during mating. This dart contains mucus that increases the chances of sperm survival. Perhaps the inspiration behind cupid’s arrow?
The ability that these mollusks have to regenerate on the go has given inspiration to both medical and beauty treatments.
If you thought the garden mollusks were fascinating, fasten your seat belt. A few things they have in common with snails and slugs is their self-regeneration, being hermaphrodite, as well as the ability to breathe through their skin.
However, there are some other facts that are definitely unique to these wiggly ones. Try living with five hearts! Yes. Considering that you will not find worms starting or joining a knitting club, it would seem that in order to regulate their body temperature, five hearts are a necessity.
These underground dwellers are a very delicate species. 90% of their bodies consist of water. They are sensitive to light and too much exposure could paralyze them, and should they eat too much protein, their intestines rupture, leaving them deformed, something that even their self-regeneration cannot fix.
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One common image associated with leeches is that of their use in medieval medicine. It would seem that they are still very relevant in modern medicine too, being used by surgeons as a post-op therapy to stimulate blood flow. It would seem that these little creatures are FDA approved, and have been since 2004!
Well, not all leeches have one set of suckers, some have suckers on both ends of their bodies. Additionally, these slithering animals can be found in different habitats on land or in water. There are three main groupings; land, marine, and freshwater leeches. Further not all leeches ‘leech’ on human blood.
That is not all, apparently, their anatomy is pretty complicated. One can almost accommodate the fact that a leech has 6 hearts after reading about the 5 hearted worms. After all, they are classified in the same family.
Considering how much blood this creature can suck, one can understand that 10 blood pouches to store all of it could be necessary. However, the anatomical feature that takes the cake would be the 32 brains! Then again, if one had 10 eyes and multiple reproductive organs, maintaining the order of basic existence would be quite the task.
Now, if you thought that the python wore the crown for the ‘longest time to digest’, you would be gravely mistaken. It seems that this tiny blood sucker needs, not one week, but three whole months to break down all the blood it has sucked, and this takes 200 enzymes to get the job done!
Our last members in the list of animals that slither are legless lizards. It may come as no surprise that these lovely slithering animals are often confused with snakes. Legless lizards have similar physical characteristics as snakes, such as their movement, their habitat, as well as their diet.
However, playing look-alike is not the only thing that legless lizards do. While most reptiles will lay eggs, there are certain species of legless lizards that will give birth to live young. A curious fact about the egg-laying species is that the little baby lizards will have to fend for themselves as soon as they pop out of those eggshells, as the mother lizard literally abandons the nest as soon as the eggs hatch. Talk about survival of the fittest!
Another species of legless lizard is the glass lizard. Why ‘glass’? You may ask. It has nothing to do with its appearance. This name is attributed to its self-defense reflex; when under attack, this lizard will ‘spit’ out its tail which will ‘shatter’ into pieces. The wriggling pieces will confuse the predator, allowing the lizard to get away!
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