Snake Anatomy Basics

Key Points

  • Snakes have a long narrow body that can be divided into four quadrants
  • Major structures of the first quadrant consist of the head, esophagus, heart, and trachea.
  • The anterior, vascularized portion of the lung(s), as well as the liver and stomach are found within the second quadrant.
  • The third quadrant contains the gallbladder, spleen, pancreas (or splenopancreas), and gonads. Coursing between these structures is the small intestine and adjacent to them is the right lung.
  • The fourth quadrant contains the junction between the small and large intestine, the cecum (in boas and pythons), kidneys, cloaca, and hemipenes.

Snakes are members of the class Reptilia, order Squamata, and suborder Serpentes. There are over 3,500 species of snakes in the world, however, for the most part, the anatomy of the snake is consistent across species.

Snakes have a long narrow body adapted for crawling and their internal anatomy has evolved to fit into a long narrow tube. It is possible to divide this tube into four quadrants (Fig 1). Although the sequence of organs is the same for all species, the relative position and size of the viscera can vary significantly between and within families . . .

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