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Sunbeam Snakes: Xenopeltidae

Behavior And Reproduction

These snakes are nonvenomous (nahn-VEH-nuh-mus), or not poisonous. They stay out of sight most of the day, remaining underground in burrows. A sunbeam snake uses its wedge-shaped head to push through leaves, litter, and loose soil. Although it is capable of digging, it usually uses burrows made by other animals rather than making them itself. The snakes become more active at night and leave the burrows to hunt. They seem to keep up their guards when out at night, moving quickly with the head pressed against the ground and the tongue flicking about again and again to pick up any scents of other animals in the air. When they feel threatened, sunbeam snakes will shake the tail like a rattlesnake does, but the sunbeam snakes have no rattles, so the tail makes no noise. Nonetheless, scientists believe that the motion alone is enough to make an attacker, also known as a predator (PREH-duh-ter), think twice about approaching the snake. Predators that come too close are greeted by a very bad-smelling material that oozes from the snake's vent area. If the predator actually touches the sunbeam snake, the snake will stiffen its body and jerk about wildly. Again, while this poses no danger to the attacker, the motion may be enough to cause the predator to leave the snake alone.

Female sunbeam snakes lay up to seventeen eggs at a time. Scientists know little else about their reproduction.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesSunbeam Snakes: Xenopeltidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Sunbeam Snakes And People, Common Sunbeam Snake (xenopeltis Unicolor): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, CONSERVATION STATUS