Slithery Snake Track

Did you know that a snake track can be classified into 5 different types of movement on land? This variety in tracks is determined by the terrain through which the snake is moving. Other factors are the size, weight and shape of the particular reptile as well as the temperature of the surrounding air and on the ground.

These are:

  • Lateral Undulation - waves of lateral bending along the body from head to tail. Whenever a bend contacts a surface object, it exerts force on it and deforms snake forward
  • Sidewinding - used by snakes crawling on smooth or slippery surfaces. The body appears to roll along the ground from neck to tail, forming a characteristic track
  • Concertina - this involves alternately pulling up the body into bends and then straightening out the body forward from the bends. This is used mostly when crawling through tunnels or narrow passages and in climbing
  • Rectilinear - movement in a straight line. Used mostly by large snakes
  • Slide-pushing - vigorous undulations of the body that slide widely over the surface. Normally used on a smooth surface when a snake is startled and tries to escape quickly but slips

This particular snake track was produced by a Southern African Python. It is referred to as rectilinear locomotion, which basically means tracks that are more or less in a straight line. This sort of track is usually created by larger and heavier snakes and is most often found in wide open areas. The python made these tracks by using its belly scales as the main area of grip and pulling himself along, not dissimilar to the way a caterpillar moves around.

The best way to learn how the different snake tracks are made is by watching how they move, however sadly the majority of our guests do not consider snake encounters as a fun activity! In this instance, we were lucky enough to find the Southern African Python and what a beautiful and graceful snake it was, a sighting these Tanda Tula guests really enjoyed - even the ones with a slight phobia!



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