This day, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day, celebrated around the world by the Irish, the formerly Irish, the wannabe-Irish, and beer drinkers of all persuasions. It's generally marked by a lot of green - green clothing, green-dyed flowers, green-dominated parades, and that abomination - green beer.
But no snakes. Snakes almost certainly don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day (even though many of them are noticeably and naturally green). After all, St. Patrick is famous for driving the snakes out of Ireland. But did he?
|A green tree python relaxes in comfort, using its own|
body as furniture.
The Irish probably don't regret the lack of snakes, but they might be missing something. Snakes are amazing and quite beautiful. A few years ago, I wrote a book about animals adapting to extreme habitats (Lizards in the Sky: Animals Where You Least Expect Them) - and one of my favourite examples was the flying snakes of Southeast Asia.
|The elegant rainbow boa is popular among collectors.|
And then there are the swimming snakes. "No, no... not swimming snakes too!" you cry. (I'm sure I heard you cry that.) Yup. Sea snakes, in fact.
|Snakes taste tiny bits of scent in the air with their|
tongues. The two forks of the tongue give the snake
a sort of stereo smelling capacity so it can tell
which direction the smell comes from.
The exception is the yellow-bellied sea snake, which is born at sea and lives there its entire life. Coolest fact? The yellow-bellied sea snake can tie itself in a knot. It loops around itself into a simple knot and runs the loop from one end of its body to the other to scrape off parasites and dead scales.
See what you're missing, Ireland?
Claire Eamer likes strange animals and weird facts and science of almost any kind. Her latest book is What a Waste! Where Does Garbage Go? (Annick Press, 2017).