A snake is a limbless, elongate reptile of the suborder Serpentes. Like all reptiles, snakes are ectothermic and covered in scales. All snakes are carnivorous and can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids, external ears, and vestiges of forelimbs. The 2,900 species of snakes spread across every continent except Antarctica ranging in size from the tiny, 10 cm long thread snake to pythons and anacondas over 7 meters long. In order to accommodate snakes' narrow bodies, paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side.
While venomous snakes comprise a minority of the species of snakes and are typically small innocuous creatures, some possess potent venom capable of causing painful injury or death to humans. However, venom in snakes is primarily for killing and subduing prey rather than for self-defense.
A literary word for snake is serpent (a Middle English word which comes from Old French, and ultimately from *serp-, "to creep"). In modern usage, the term serpent usually refers to a mythic or symbolic snake. In Christianity, the serpent is often identified with the devil, as in the Biblical account of Adam and Eve.
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