How do snakes move?
Snakes do not have legs, so they slither and slide. But what does this mean?
Snake locomotion (movement) can be serpentine, concertina, rectilinear, or sidewinding.
Serpentine movement is also called lateral undulation, and it is the most common way for snakes to move. The movement looks like an ‘S’ shape. Terrestrial snakes, that live on the ground, use this type of movement. Aquatic snakes, that live in water, also use this type of movement.
Concertina movement is a bit like the way worms move—the front part moves forward and then the back half follows. Arboreal snakes, that live in trees, often use this type of movement. Fossorial snakes, that burrow or dig into the ground, also use this type of movement.
Rectilinear movement is a bit like the way caterpillars crawl—the edges of the snake acts as an anchor and the muscles pull the body to that point, then the edges move forward again, and the muscles pull the body to that point. Large snakes, such as pythons and boa constrictors, use this type of movement.
Sidewinding movement is when the snake does not move in the direction that it is facing—instead, it moves at an angle of 45 degrees to the way it is facing. Desert snakes, that live in sand dunes, such as rattlesnakes and sidewinders, use this type of movement.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM