Green snake isolated on white background

Why Don’t Snakes Have Legs?

If you have a pet snake and wonder, it would be much easier for a snake to get around if it had legs. Legs could give them that extra boost in movement. Well, let’s find out why snakes dont have legs, and what’s more intriguing is that it is a possibility that they may have legs in the future.

Snakes don’t have legs as they don’t need them; snakes will use their muscles to move, they do this by contracting their muscles, and they are fine without legs. However, it is believed that snakes once actually had legs but evolved, mutated and no longer required legs anymore. For some snakes like the python, you can still see the spurs in which their ancestors had legs, and this also gives the possibility that snakes will once again have legs if needed in the future.

Snakes are a very complex species, truly fascinating. Snakes have been on this planet for over 340 million years. Some of the snakes’ fascinating body functions are their amazing long bodies and their functioning one long lung. Did you know that snakes organs are stacked one after the other?. A Snakes jaw is de-attached, which enables them to open their mouths really wide.

Recommended Reading:

Let’s find out what spurs are? And what they are used for today in snakes.

Where are snake spurs located?

Snakes spurs, also known as anal spurs, or pelvic spurs, are found underneath the snake on either side of the cloaca. Spurs are tiny claw-like structures ‘vestigial remnant’. Connected to bones. However, spurs are the leftovers of where the legs once were many years ago. However, they are still valuable to the snakes of today.

What do snake spurs look like?

Spurs look like tiny spike cones simply poking out from under the snake. Some people say they look like a horn or a claw. The colour of spurs is usually darker than the snake, most common being dark brown in colour. Spurs have slight movement to them, you can wiggle them, and the snake can also slightly move them about. They can move as they are attached to a pelvis bone, required to have legs previously.

Python snake pelvic spur

What are snake spurs used for?

Mating

They aren’t used for walking anymore; male snakes use them during the mating process as a form of slight grip over the female and indicate that the male snake is ready to mate. By moving and tickling his spurs on her, it will initiate the female snake into position.

Fighting

Snakes have found another purpose for their leftover spurs. They will use these spurs to pin the snake down or puncher the rival snake during snake fighting. Spurs won’t do much damage on their own; however, they could win the fight in a tight grip. Snakes will use up all they can during a fight, and their spurs are one of the tools they can use. 

Snake Spur Facts:

  • Spurs are not unshed skin.
  • Male snakes have reused their leftover spurs to fill a different purpose: during the mating process and fighting with other male snakes.
  • Spurs were once legs of a snake
  • Spurs are attached to a pelvis
  • The animal that snakes evolved from had short legs in the same location
  • Males have bigger spurs than females
  • Spurs are tiny femurs 

Which snakes have spurs?

  • Boas
  • Pythons

Do both female and male snakes have spurs?

Yes, both sexes have spurs located in the same place on their bodies. However, males have a pointer and bigger spurs due to filling another purpose for them slightly. Males will use their spurs as leverage during mating and fighting with other snakes.

Why does only some snake have spurs?

The snake species, such as the python or the boa snake variety, are the oldest snakes to have evolved, thus leaving behind some leftover history on their bodies. The new snake types have been through a longer thining process than the older species, losing their history when they were once a different lizard type creature with legs. 

2015 big discovery of a snake fossil

Snakes evolved from a lizard type creature, and it’s believed to be burrowing lizards, not marine lizards. Thanks to the University of Portsmouth for discovering a snake fossil in 2015, dating back between 140 to 170 million years ago. Scientists managed to establish that snakes came from a burrowing lizard from this find.

Type of Burrowing lizard (Sand Lizard)

I can certainly see a resemblance between the two species, except one has legs and is a lot shorter in size. The head even looks so much like a snakes head.

Conclusion

We now know that snakes dont have legs due to them evolving from borrowing lizards, they either didn’t require them anymore, or it was due to a mutation of genes that gave the snake their legless elongated bodies.

It's a good thing to share!

Scroll to Top