Snake Fangs Amazing Facts
Even though most snake species possess teeth not all snakes species do have fangs.
In modern snakes the teeth are usually divided into four different types, of these 3 are typically called fangs.
These fang structures are called proteroglyphous, solenoglyphous, or opisthoglyphous while normal teeth without grooves are called Aglyphous.
All these fancy names include the Greek word "glyph" which means "groove".
The 3 different fang structures found in venomous snakes are unique to a different family of snakes, which are the viperids, elapids, and atractaspidines.
Only venomous snakes have fangs, which are different from the snake's "normal" teeth, therefore fangs are considered specialized teeth.
They are usually longer, very sharp and may be hollow or grooved and can be fixed to the jaw or fold back into the mouth. They are connected to small glands found inside in the snake’s head just behind the eyes.
It's in these glands that snake venom is produced, to be readily available to be injected through the snake's fangs into an unfortunate prey or sometimes an unsuspecting human.
When snakes bite, venom is released into the victim bloodstream immediately starting to work inducing different symptoms according to the snake venom type.
It may begin paralyzing, clot the blood, destroying blood cells and eventually killing the prey.
Occasionally, a snake may use its fangs for self-defense, but studies show defense strikes are far less likely to lead venom injection, this is called a "dry bite".
Also incredible is the ability of some snakes to spit their venom at their foe when feeling threatened. To do this they use slightly modified fangs with front facing holes. When the snake squeezes the venom glands the venom sprays out.
There are 28 Naja species, from these 14 are capable of spitting venom, collectively known as "spitting cobras". Including the Mozambique spitting cobra found in Africa or the Asiatic Monocled cobra.
However, some vipers or even elapids such as the Rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus) are able to spit venom. In severe cases, this may even cause permanent blindness if the eyes are targeted.
Solenoglyphous snakes have the most sophisticated fangs of all snakes.
They all belong to the viper family, which includes "true vipers" like Russell's viper or pit vipers like the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
These fangs evolved about 40 million years ago in the ancestor to all modern viper species, which lived in Asia.
Even though vipers have successfully radiated into 320 extant species, fossil records show that this type of fangs has changed very little for millions of years.
In these snakes, the fangs are long and tubular, like a hypodermic needle and attached to the snake's jaw by hinges.
This allows the snake to fold their very long fangs against the top of the mouth when not in use.
That's why these snakes have some of the longest fangs of all venomous snakes, with some reaching over 2 inches long like those of the Gaboon viper.
Do snakes replace their teeth and fangs?
The short answer is, yes snakes are able to replace all their teeth, this includes, of course, their amazing fangs.
They also do it on a regular basis as teeth and fangs may get stuck in prey, break or just wear out.
In some snake species, there may be up to 6 replacement fangs, in several development states, embedded behind the active fangs.
Sometimes a snake can have 3 fangs if a replacement fang develops before the old fang falls out.
Here you have it, some amazing and cool facts about snake's teeth, here you can learn about their venom.
Did You Know?
Africa's mozambique spitting cobra is capable of spitting venom to a distance of more than 2 meters.