Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SciFri: Skype a Scientist

A couple of weeks ago I Skyped a classroom in Qatar to present a quick presentation to a classroom of kindergarten children on my research as well as the importance of amphibians and reptiles. If you’d like to learn more about Skype a Scientist or maybe get involved yourself then feel free to click on this link. The class I Skyped asked such amazing questions that I thought I would answer them all here for everyone to read. Never underestimate the imagination and curiosity of a growing mind. Below are the questions along with my answers.

Q. How do lizards lay eggs? A. Lizards lay eggs in a similar way to birds, although not all lizards lay eggs – some give to birth to live young like most mammals.

Q. How can lizards be invisible in their habitats? A. A lot of lizards have built in camouflage to help them blend into their surroundings which makes finding them very difficult. Some of them are also very small which doesn’t make things any easier!

Q. Why do snakes use their tongues to smell? A. When a snake (or a lizard) flicks its tongue in and out it is trying to pick up tiny scent particles in the air. When the snake then brings its tongue back into its mouth, the tongue then passes past a special organ which tells the snake what the smell is.

Q. How long does it take for a snake to shed its skin? A. Snakes shed their skin on a regular basis in order to enable growth as well as repair of the skin. The time taken between sheds can depend on the size of the snake, the season and how much it has fed. Younger snakes tend to shed more than older snakes just because they grow faster.

Q. How do you stay safe while you study snakes? A. Thankfully my study species aren’t venomous but when working with venomous snakes I use hooks and protective gloves to help keep me safe when handling snakes.

Q. How long is the longest snake species? A. It is currently believed that the reticulated python is the world’s longest snake species with one of the largest confirmed snakes measuring almost 7 metres in length.

Q. How do frogs jump so far? A. Frogs store a lot of energy in their leg muscles and they launch when their tendons release that energy much like a spring.

Q. Can snakes climb trees? A. Yes they can, some are very good climbers.

Q. How do snakes move through water? A. Snakes are buoyant and therefore can swim, most of them swim by moving side-to-side in a very similar motion to that they use on land to move around.

Q. Why did you choose to study amphibians and reptiles? A. I never really grew up, I always find myself satisfying my inner 6 year old as well as my curiosity.

Q. How do reptiles eat? A. In general reptiles eat by catching smaller prey than them, such as mice or birds and in most cases, eating them whole. Crocodiles often take down larger prey and break it up into smaller pieces that they can swallow. There are some reptiles such as tortoises that eat plants.

Q. Where do snakes keep their venom? A. Venomous snakes store their venom in their venom glands which may be in their mouth or on the top of their heads, this is also were the venom is produced.

That’s the majority of the questions and answers, I hope you find them useful and if you’ve got any relevant questions then please comment on this post. If you’d like to hear me speak more on snakes and venom then please check out the latest episode The Naked Scientists!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *