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Most snakes use undulation as their land travel mode, with circular muscle rings pushing against irregularities in the soil to gain forward momentum.
Some lizards, like the veiled chameleon, raise on their hind legs when running, similar to how motorcyclists perform a wheelie when accelerating.
Reptiles typically move by sprawling, sliding their underside along the ground. This method is employed by all lizards, snakes, salamanders, and amphibians; its smooth underside reduces friction against the floor. In addition, Molluscs use mucus on their bodies to minimize friction against sharp rocks, while earthworms have bristled at both ends that hook into their environment and help anchor and move with ease.
Vipers and caenophidian snakes use a concertina movement, in which their rear portions brace against their surroundings while pushing and extending the front part before dragging forward as one movement. It can be more challenging to perform than the more straightforward slithering style; some snakes also employ straight, creeping locomotion by bending their ribs with waves traveling backward through their body; this method works better on flat surfaces than any other movement method.
You may spot a veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) in Africa’s rain forests and deserts; their skin changes color to attract mates or warn off intruders while adjusting body temperature and maintaining environmental equilibrium.
Reptiles lack gills and thus rely on highly developed lungs for breathing; their lung surface area exceeds that of amphibians.
Many reptiles employ concertina locomotion as their movement mode, using pushes against surfaces or objects to propel themselves along, caused by circular muscle rings moving the body sideways. It resembles how fish such as eels move when swimming – this process is known as lateral undulation.
As cold-blooded vertebrates, reptiles must regulate their body temperatures to stay alive. Snakes do this by basking in the sunlight or resting on warm rocks; another method involves altering their metabolism or entering dormancy during cold weather conditions.
Serpentine is an abundant mineral found in igneous and sedimentary rocks, often near present or ancient convergent plate boundaries or in ophiolite sequences – areas where part of an oceanic plate has been thrust onto land due to tectonic forces.
Serpentines possess a slippery feel and appearance that make them move like snakes. Being very flexible, their scales can flex in multiple configurations when swimming – an action known as lateral undulation.
Snakes that crawl without legs move by pressing their scales against objects in front of them, similar to crawling serpentines using rectilinear locomotion (waves of bending moving backward along their bodies) for travel, which enables them to navigate around fixed obstacles such as rocks or grass tussocks more efficiently compared to other methods used by other snakes for locomotion (which tend to make snakes go much faster).
Many are familiar with the slithery movements of snakes (check out our Dangerous Snakes of the World Worksheet), but did you know crocodiles can also gallop? This movement requires pushing off with their hind legs while moving their forelegs in pairs alternately – taking an enormous amount of energy but used primarily to clear ground obstacles or ambush prey animals.
Reptiles move by undulating laterally, using circular muscle rings to produce waves of movement that slide the body sideways against irregularities in the ground. Snakes often use this technique, making it efficient for traversing flat beaches or moving across short distances at slow speeds.
Some snakes, such as pythons and boas, use concertina locomotion when moving slowly through tunnels. Here, they alternate bracing parts of their bodies on surrounding objects to prevent downward sliding.