The Anatomy of the Snake raises many questions. One that often comes up concerns the means of movement of these reptiles. Indeed, since they have no legs, we can ask ourselves: How do snakes move ? In this article, we will answer this question in the simplest way possible.

4 Methods of Snake Movement

Snakes use four main methods to move forward: they glide through a lateral undulation they create with their body, they move in a straight line by retracting/extending the middle of their body, they make movements similar to the folds of an accordion, and they curl up by making a series of loops.

According to one study, the most commonly used method of moving is still lateral undulation. Analyses have also stated that even though they don’t have legs, these reptiles have a method of movement as efficient as those with two legs.

The snake, an animal that uses its whole body to move

Snake Movement

Movement in an animal is not always easy to explain, especially because it varies according to three criteria in vertebrates: the skeleton, the nervous system and the musculature (including the skin and scales). Movement can be defined as the consequence of contact between the animal’s limbs and the ground. With this in mind, the snake uses its entire body to move by contracting its muscles.

Snakes are also versatile animals. Indeed, they can create different support points on the ground with all areas of their body. Bipedal or quadrupedal animals, on the other hand, can only create support points on their legs. Because of their long body shape, snakes are able to create a foothold on any surface. Whether it’s rocks or branches, they will hook onto any irregularity with their scales to exert force in one direction and move where they want.

The Snake Body, a multi-functional means of movement

Snake Movements in Trees

Thanks to the number of vertebrae and muscles they possess, their body is even more multifunctional. Indeed, they are able to climb trees by making movements during which they roll and unroll their body around the tree. If they manage to climb without falling, it is thanks to their scales that create friction on the trunk.

Some species, called arboreal, have even developed impressive skills. To capture a prey, they position themselves in a tree and wait for it to pass underneath to land on them, without being hurt. Before the fall, these reptiles adopt a dome position with their body by activating their back muscles that spread their ribs. By doing this and flattening their belly, they avoid a violent shock.


As you can see, the absence of legs in snakes is far from being a disadvantage, on the contrary. They are able to move on almost any surface without worry, including trees. Their multi-functional body makes them much more free and agile than any other animal.

The anatomy of the snake is fascinating because it diverges from all other animals. If you want to know more about it, we have written an article about it that we recommend you to go and see. Otherwise, you can also subscribe to our Newsletter if you liked this article. You will then be the first to receive our new blog posts.

If you are passionate about snakes, you should also check out our online store. Born out of a love for these animals, Snake Lounge™ is the first brand entirely inspired by the snake. We offer a wide range of Snake Jewelry, Clothing and Accessories that combine both the elegance and symbolism of this mythical reptile.

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