If you have ever watched a snake move, there were probably two things about it that impressed you. The first, of course, was simply the mysterious ways in which a snake moves. You do not see any legs, the body does not seem to have anything to push or pull it, and yet there it is, moving! And the second thing is that the body seems to “flow” along the ground.
It does not seem to have a bone in its body! The fact is, however, that a snake is simply full of bones! A snake has a sectioned backbone, and to this backbone are attached pairs of ribs. Some snakes have as many as 145 pairs of ribs attached to that very flexible backbone.
Ball-and-socket joints attach the sections of the backbone to one another, and each rib to a section of the backbone. So great freedom of movement of that backbone and the ribs is possible.
The tips of each pair of ribs are attached with muscles to one of the scales that are on the “stomach”, or abdomen, of the snake. Because of this, a snake can move each one of these scales independently. When the snake moves one of these scales, that scale acts as afoot. Snakes also have bones in their heads and jaws. A snake can open its jaws very wide when it is swallowing its dinner.
This is because all the bones around the mouth and throat are loosely attached to the mouth can be stretched very wide. In fact, most snakes swallow their catch without trying to kill it first. Later on, they digest it. So, you see, snakes do have bones in their body, even though their slithery bodies look as if there’s nothing solid in them!
How Many Bones Do Snakes Have?
Humans have 33 bones in their spine—snakes have between 180 and 400.