Do Snakes Have Bones? | The Fascinating Truth

Seeing a snake can be a daunting experience for some, and many questions come to mind. One common question that arises is whether snakes have bones. To help alleviate any confusion, we have created this informative article on the topic of whether snakes have bones.

In this article, we will cover the anatomy of snakes, discuss the skeletal structure of snakes, and answer the question of whether snakes have bones. Additionally, we will provide information on what to do if your pet snake has broken bones and the importance of veterinary care for pet snakes.

By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of whether snakes have bones and the importance of proper care for pet snakes. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of snakes and their anatomy.

Do Snakes Have Bones? Complete Answer

Snakes do have bones, just like all other vertebrate animals. However, their skeletal system is adapted to their unique body shape and movement. Snakes have a long and flexible body that allows them to slither and move quickly.

Do snakes have bones? (safariscience)

To facilitate this movement, their skeleton is elongated and consists of many small and thin vertebrae connected by flexible joints. This allows the snake to move and bend in various directions, making it an agile predator.

In comparison to other animals, the snake’s skeletal system is relatively simple. They do not have a sternum, pelvis, or limbs like mammals and birds do. Instead, their body is supported and controlled by a long series of vertebrae and muscles.

So, while snakes do have bones, their skeletal system is uniquely adapted to their lifestyle as a flexible and efficient predators.

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The Skeleton of a Snake

Snakes do indeed have skeletons, but their skeletal system is quite different from that of other animals. One of the unique features of a snake’s skeleton is that it is incredibly flexible, allowing the snake to move and contort its body in ways that other animals can’t.

The Utterly Bizarre Skeletons of Snakes | BUSTED BONES (EDGE Science)

This is because snakes have a large number of vertebrae – up to 400 in some species – which are connected by ball-and-socket joints that allow for a wide range of motion. Additionally, snakes don’t have traditional limbs, so their skeletal system doesn’t include any leg or arm bones.

Overall, the snake’s skeletal system is specialized for its unique slithering and crawling mode of movement.

What Do Snake Bones Look Like?

Do Snakes Have Bones? What Do Snake Bones Look Like?
Attribution: Stefan3345, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Snake bones are different from the bones of other animals. They are small, light, and thin, making them more flexible and easier to move. Snake bones are also highly specialized, allowing for the unique ways snakes can move and hunt.

The bones vary in size and shape depending on the species, with some species having elongated vertebrae that help with climbing, and others having shorter, more rigid bones that aid in burrowing.

Understanding the characteristics of snake bones is important in understanding how snakes behave and move in their environment.

How Do Snakes Move?

Snakes are known for their unique method of locomotion, which involves using their muscles and scales to “walk” forward. There are four main ways that snakes move around: the serpentine method, rectilinear method, sidewinding method, and concertina method.

How Snakes Move! (Snake Discovery)

Serpentine method

The serpentine method, also known as lateral undulation, is the most common way that snakes move. Snakes use their muscles to bend their bodies from side to side in a wave-like pattern, which propels them forward.

Rectilinear method

The rectilinear method is used by larger snakes such as pythons and boas. These snakes use their belly scales to grip the ground and then contract their muscles to pull themselves forward in a straight line.

Sidewinding metho

The sidewinding method is used by snakes to move across loose sand or other unstable surfaces. Snakes move their body sideways in a wave-like motion, allowing them to maintain traction while moving.

Concertina method

The concertina method is used by snakes to navigate through tight spaces. Snakes use their muscles to grip the sides of the space and then push themselves forward using their belly scales.


In general, most snakes glide forward by using their ribs and belly scales to push backward, first on one side and then the other. This motion allows them to move quickly and efficiently across a variety of terrains.

Understanding how snakes move is important for a number of reasons. It can help us to better understand their behavior and ecology, as well as to develop more effective strategies for snake control and conservation.

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Are Snake Bones Poisonous?

There is a common misconception that snake bones are poisonous, but this is not true. Snake bones are made up of the same materials as other animal bones and are not toxic. Even if a person were to ingest snake bones, there would be no poisonous effect.

However, it is important to note that some species of snakes are venomous, and their venom can be deadly. It is crucial to exercise caution and avoid handling venomous snakes or getting too close to them in the wild. If bitten by a venomous snake, seek medical attention immediately.

So snake bones themselves are not poisonous, but it is important to be aware of the potential danger posed by venomous snakes.

What Snake Can Melt Bones?

There is no snake that can “melt” bones, as snakes do not have the ability to produce acid or other substances with such a powerful corrosive effect. While some snakes do have venom that can cause tissue damage, including damage to bones, the effects of venom on bones are generally limited and do not involve “melting”.

However, there is a snake called the stiletto snake that has specialized fangs that can cause significant damage to bones. The stiletto snake is found in parts of Africa and the Middle East and is known for its extremely long and thin fangs that are used to inject venom into prey.

While the stiletto snake’s venom can cause damage to bones, it does not have the ability to “melt” bones.

If you’re interested in learning more about the stiletto snake, we found a video that you might find interesting.

Deadly snake melts bones without biting you (Venomman20)

How Many Bones Does a Snake Have?

Snakes have a surprising number of bones compared to other animals. The exact number varies depending on the species and size of the snake.

Snakes have a lot of bones, with larger species having more bones. Snakes may have anywhere from 300-1,800 bones, with the average number of vertebrae in pythons that measured between 7 and 9 feet long being 300, and boas of approximately 5 feet having an average of 250 vertebrae, bringing the total bone count to around 700.

A small snake like the 10 cm long thread snake has about 200 vertebrae and the same number of pairs of ribs, for about 600 bones, while a large snake-like the 7 m long giant python has up to 600 vertebrae, for about 1,800 bones in all.

Snakes also have bones in their skull, spine, ribs, and tail, with the number varying depending on the species and size of the snake.

Overall, the exact number of bones in a snake’s body can vary widely, but it generally ranges from several hundred to several thousand bones.

Can Snakes Bones Be Broken?

Snakes have relatively flexible bones that are designed to allow them to move and contort their bodies in various ways. However, this does not mean that snake bones are unbreakable. In fact, snake bones can be broken or fractured, just like any other animal’s bones.

The most common bone to break in a snake is the rib, particularly in larger species like the boa constrictor. This can happen if they are not held correctly and too much pressure is put on the rib.

Snakes can also break their back, which is usually the result of an injury. However, because of their dark skin and scales, swelling and bruising from a broken bone can be hard to see in snakes.

A broken bone in a snake can occur due to various reasons such as trauma, injury, or disease. Trauma can occur from a fall, being dropped, or being attacked by a predator. Injury can occur from a snake trying to swallow prey that is too large, causing the bones to crack or break. Diseases such as metabolic bone disease can weaken the bones and make them more prone to breakage.

A broken bone in a snake can be a serious issue, as it can affect the snake’s ability to move and hunt for food. Depending on the severity of the break, the snake may require veterinary care, including immobilization and potential surgery to repair the broken bone.

It’s important to handle snakes carefully to avoid injuring them and potentially causing broken bones.

What To Do if Your Pet Snake Has Broken Bones

If you suspect that your pet snake has a broken bone, it’s important to take immediate action to ensure that they receive proper care and treatment.

So here we will discuss how to tell if your snake has broken bones, the steps you should take when your snake has a broken bone, and the importance of seeking veterinary care for your pet snake.

How to tell signs of broken and/or fractured ribs on Snake (Josh’s Adventures)

How To Tell if Your Snake Has Broken Bones?

If you suspect that your pet snake has a broken bone, there are a few signs you can look out for. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some of these signs can also indicate other health issues, so it’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. Some signs that your snake may have a broken bone include:

  • Difficulty moving or using a certain part of their body
  • Swelling or bruising in a specific area
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Limping or favoring one side
  • Twisted or abnormal appearance of a limb or spine
  • Pain or sensitivity when touched in a certain area
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet snake, it's important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Steps To Take When Your Snake Has a Broken Bone

If you suspect that your pet snake has a broken bone, here are some steps you can take:

Snakes Bones: Steps To Take When Your Snake Has a Broken Bone
  • Keep your snake calm and still: Movement can exacerbate the injury, so it’s important to keep your snake as still as possible.
  • Place your snake in a safe, secure container: This will prevent further injury and allow you to transport them to the vet.
  • Contact a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles: Not all vets have experience with snakes, so it’s important to find a vet who is knowledgeable about reptile care.
  • Follow your vet’s instructions: Your vet may recommend immobilization, medication, or even surgery to help repair the broken bone. Follow their instructions carefully to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet.

Veterinary Care is Crucial

Veterinary care is crucial for pet snakes, especially when it comes to injuries like broken bones. A qualified reptile vet can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to help your snake recover from their injury.

In addition, they can provide advice on how to prevent future injuries and maintain your snake’s overall health and well-being. Regular check-ups with a reptile vet can help ensure that your pet snake stays healthy and happy for years to come.

Final Thoughts

So we can say that snakes do have bones, despite popular misconceptions. While they may appear to be boneless due to their flexible and elongated bodies, snakes possess a skeleton made up of numerous vertebrae, ribs, and other bones that allow them to move and function in their environment.

It’s essential to understand the anatomy of your pet snake and provide them with proper care and attention to ensure their bones remain healthy and intact. If you suspect your snake has a broken bone or any other health issues, seeking veterinary care is crucial for their well-being.

Remember to handle your pet snake with care and respect, and they will provide you with a fascinating and rewarding pet ownership experience.

FAQs

Do snakes have bones?

Yes, snakes have bones. Like all other vertebrates, snakes have a skeletal system made up of bones.

What are snake bones called?

Snake bones are called vertebrae. Snakes have a long row of vertebrae, which make up their backbone.

Do snakes have backbones?

Yes, snakes have backbones. Their backbone is made up of many vertebrae, which are connected by joints that allow the snake to move in different directions.

Do snakes have jaw bones?

Yes, snakes have jaw bones. However, their jaws are not connected to their skull like human jaws are. Instead, they have a flexible joint that allows them to swallow prey much larger than their own head.

Do snakes have leg bones?

No, snakes do not have leg bones. They have evolved to move in a unique way without the need for legs. Instead, they use their muscles and belly scales to propel themselves forward.

Is there a boneless snake?

No, there is no such thing as a boneless snake. All snakes have bones, as they are part of their skeletal system.

Are snake bones strong?

Yes, snake bones are strong, especially considering the length and thinness of their bodies. Their bones are also very lightweight, allowing for easier movement.

Can a snake’s bones crack?

Yes, snake bones can crack, especially if they experience trauma or injury

What to do if my pet snake has broken bones?

If you suspect your pet snake has broken bones, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. Treatment options may include immobilization, pain management, and/or surgery depending on the severity of the injury.

Resources – (for further reading)

University of Melbourne – Sneaky Snake Facts – School of Biomedical Sciences

Yale New Haven Teachers Institute – Skulls and Bones: Comparing Form and Function of Vertebrate Skeletal Systems

African Snakebite Institute – Beware of the Stiletto Snake

I'm Ernest M Noah, the founder of BugsTips.com. I have years of experience as an exterminator in Texas and Idaho, and I'm passionate about educating people on how to deal with pest problems effectively and safely.