Snakes intrigue, fascinate and sometimes horrify. As well as been one of the most potent symbols of the animal world, they are also among its most fascinating members. With 2,700 species in total, snakes inhabit some of nature’s most inhospitable parts of the world – from deserts to barren mountain slopes – but are equally at home in the tree canopies of the great rainforests, or swimming in the ocean currents of the Pacific.
Snakes have always held a fascination, often bordering on an obsession, for people; and since prehistoric times, they have been shrouded in mysticism and superstition. The fascination was due, at least partly, to their strange shape and motion, and their ability to strike unexpectedly with deadly accuracy. Such inhuman or “unnatural” attributes lead them to be considered supernatural and superhuman. Myths and legends about snakes abound, and they have been worshiped and used in ceremonies and rituals all over the world.
Coiled motionless around tree branches or slithering silently through the undergrowth, snakes are the most secretive and feared of all the reptiles. Yet less than a quarter of all snakes are venomous, and they rarely attack people unless provoked. The smallest snakes are as thin as a pencil, while the largest are meter wide. All sizes are fascinating, from hooded cobras and hissing Russell's vipers to colourful golden tree snakes and amazing kingcobras.