Recently this question has come up more than 10 times asking, “do snakes have bones?”, they do, snakes have many ribs that go down their entire body after the skull.
When I started keep snakes, I always wondered if a snake had any bones at all because they are so agile and soft to the touch. But as it turns out they are not like them jelly sweet snakes, but their bones are very flexible. This allows snakes to be so bendy but with enough pressure their bones can break like humans.
The most common broken bone on a snake is the boa constrictor that is large not being held correct which has put too much pressure on the rib. This is still rare and is the large bodied snake but shows it is still possible for a snake to break a bone.
All snakes are vertebrates, and this means they also have a backbone, this bone is more flexible at moving from side to side but is less so at going down and up, too much pressure will cause them to break their back.
How Many Bones do Snakes Have?
This is where things get interesting, you would think a human has more bones than most snake species, but this is not true.
A human has 206 bones in the entire body, whereas 95% of snake species have more than 400 bones within their body, these bones are much more flexible and durable than human bones also.
The skull of a snake is also quite complex as they do not chew their food, a snake must adapt to be able to swallow larger prey items. This allows snakes to comfortable swallow prey up to 3.5x times its head size.
The top of a snake’s skull is fixed in place and does not have any give, the stretch comes from the bottom jaws which can open to a near 180-degree angle and are independent to one another.
So how do they do this? Well it is simple, snakes can and will disconnect the law jaw which allows such a wide opening and do a sawing motion using one side of the jaw to go forwards and pull back, then moving the opposite side and repeating until the prey is ingested.
So, we know that snakes have bones, so how do snakes move. To keep this as simple as possible, they use the muscles on their belly.
Snakes are most similar to caterpillars but at the same time not because a snake does the motion in such small movements, we can’t see them do it, they also do it multiple times down their body, so it is not just one motion of going forwards.
A snake will alternate between segments on the underbelly to keep their movement constant and smooth. Snakes have many small muscles rather than one big one which allows them to do this.
Now you know not only do snakes have bones, but a snake has more bones than you!