Have you ever seen an animal slithering along the ground and wondered what it was? There are quite a few different animals that get around by slithering! In this post, we’ll look at some of the most common and interesting slithering animals.
One of the first animals people think of when they hear the word “slither” is a snake! Snakes are reptiles that move by slithering along the ground. Their bodies are perfectly adapted for this kind of movement – they are long and slender and don’t have any legs.
Snakes slither by contracting their muscles in a wave-like pattern that passes from head to tail. This allows them to slide their bodies forward smoothly. The scales on a snake’s belly are designed to grip surfaces like the ground or tree branches, helping them push forward.
Some snakes that are good at slithering are garter snakes, rat snakes, and racers. These agile snakes can quickly slither through vegetation, under rocks, and inside burrows. Their speed helps them catch prey and escape predators in the wild.
While slithering works great on the ground, snakes are also good swimmers! They slither through water the same way they do on land. Sea snakes are specially adapted for swimming with paddle-shaped tails and the ability to hold their breath for a long time.
Believe it or not, there are lizards without legs that slither like snakes! These legless lizards belong to the family Anguidae. Unlike snakes, legless lizards have eyelids and external ear openings, giving them a lizard-like head. They also have longer tails than snakes.
Some examples of legless lizards include:
- Glass lizards: These are found in North America and are named for their fragile tails that break off easily. The tail keeps wiggling after it detaches to distract predators.
- Slow worms: Despite the name, slow worms aren’t worms at all. They are greyish legless lizards found in Europe.
- Scheltopusiks: These big-eyed, legless lizards inhabit Asia and can grow up to 1.5m long!
Legless lizards slither in grasslands, forests, and sandy areas. Without legs weighing them down, they can move pretty quickly! Their slithering locomotion is similar to snakes – lateral undulation of their long bodies.
While they resemble snakes, legless lizards aren’t closely related. These unique reptiles have evolved slender snake-like bodies for their legless lifestyle.
When you think of slimy creatures slithering underground, earthworms probably come to mind. Earthworms are invertebrates that belong to the phylum Annelida. There are over 7,000 different earthworm species living everywhere except Antarctica.
Earthworms have elongated, segmented bodies that contract and relax to inch themselves forward. Tiny bristles called setae on each segment grip the ground as they go. Their burrowing and slithering improves soil quality by moving nutrients and aerating the earth.
Some earthworms even come to the surface at night to hunt for food. Nightcrawlers are one example you may see on sidewalks after rain. Their slithering helps them find new feeding grounds.
If you’ve ever been in a lake or pond, you may have felt a leech latch onto your skin. Leeches are worms in the subclass Hirudinea that are mainly aquatic. There are over 650 leech species, most of which feed on the blood of mammals like humans.
To slither along, leeches contract their bodies in a worm-like motion. They have two suckers on each end – one sucker latches on while the other detaches and reaches forward. This alternating motion allows them to inchworm their way along.
Once a leech finds its prey, its strong jaws pierce the skin, allowing it to suck blood. Some medicinal leeches are still used today after surgery to prevent blood clots. But wild ones can give you a nasty bite!
Leeches mainly live in freshwater lakes and streams, but some terrestrial species can be found in moist forests or caves.
Caecilians are a group of limbless, serpentine amphibians found in the tropics of South America, Africa, and Asia.
With their worm-like appearance and secretive burrowing lifestyle, caecilians are one of the least-known groups of vertebrates. Their name comes from the Latin word “caecus” meaning blind, referring to their reduced eyes that lie under skin and bone.
These legless amphibians slither through underground tunnels like snakes. Some caecilians have scales that help grip soil or mud as they move. Their flexible skulls allow them to burrow through tight spots.
Different caecilian species have adapted to live in various environments like rainforests, swamps, or even dry savannas. They spend most of their time hidden underground, so catching a glimpse of one slithering by would be very rare!