Do snakes have bones?

The flexibility of the snakes makes it seem as if the snakes do not have bones, but they actually do have them and there are many. The adult snake may have over 300 bones, depending on the species or size. However, the snakes only have a few types of bones, and they are backbones, jawbones and the skull.

For its basic framework, the snake does have a flexible backbone, and it is made up by ribs and vertebrae. They also have teeth, jawbones and skulls. Two ribs are found on every vertebrae, but the tail does not have ribs. The bony projection of vertebrae at the front near the ends of the backbone locks at the end of the vertebrae in their place. This allows the flexibility of the backbone, and it prevents it against slipping out of place.

The ribs of the snake do not join; however, they do have free ends. It allows for expansion when it ingests a large prey and compression with some types of snakes. Not having the breastbone also helps the snake to ingest larger prey.

The jawbones are loosely attached to the skull, and they have stretchy ligaments that make it easy for the snake to swallow the prey which is larger compared to the mouth. The separate jaw element may move on its own, and this means that the snake is able to open the mouth sideways and also vertically. The lower jaw can also stretch away from the skull. The bones found at the front of the jaw have not been fused together, and this means that snake will lock the prey in the mouth while moving the jaws at each side.

The boa constrictors and the pythons also have vestiges as hind legs, also known as pelvic spurs, and they have internal bones at the pelvic area. The vestigial legs are used during the courtship in order to hold a female.

Go back to the How to Get Rid of Snakes page or email us if you have any other questions about Do snakes have bones?