— EXHIBIT CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE —
One of our newest attractions, Snakes of Texas, has become a must see for everyone!
Displayed are 20 species of venomous and non-venomous native snakes in a safe environment. Discover how snakes help gardeners by keeping rodents and other pests under control.
Snakes on a plain, in a desert, and in the water
Snakes are legless reptiles found on every continent except for Antarctica, and they fascinate us! Snakes can be as small as an earthworm (like the rough earth snake that can be found in your backyard) or large enough to eat a pig (like anacondas and pythons).
Snakes are covered in scales that are connected by soft skin. A scale even covers their eyes! If you see a snake with opaque eyes, it’s about to shed its skin, which it does regularly. They “smell” through their tongues, but they can only hear very low frequencies.
In the winter, snakes will bromate – they are awake but inactive, needing much less food. Different species are nocturnal (active at night) and diurnal (active during the day).
Predator or prey?
Snakes play a vital role in our ecosystem! They eat everything from earthworms to frogs to mice to rabbits. They keep quick-reproducing populations in control. In turn, snakes are prey (food) for other predators, like hawks, foxes, and even other snakes!
The predator-prey relationship is a fragile balance. If you kill all of the predators in an ecosystem, prey will grow too quickly and destroy plant life. Once the prey animals eat all of their available food, they, too, will get sick and die. So, the next time you see a snake, know that it is busy keeping pest species like rodents in check!
Venomous or poisonous?
A venomous animal injects venom into its target – hence the name! When we hear the word, “venom,” we may think of certain species of snakes and spiders, but did you know the most venomous animals on the planet include the box jelly (native to Asia and Australia) and cone snails? The snail preys on small fish in warm water oceans. Although rare, human deaths have been recorded from the stings of larger cone snail species.
Poisonous animals have toxins in their body or on their skin that can harm or kill predators that try to eat or touch them. The beautiful monarch butterfly is poisonous! It won’t hurt you if it lands on you, but if you tried to eat it, it would taste bitter enough to spit back out. Its bright colors warn predators like birds to stay away. Another example of a poisonous animal is the poison dart frog.