Snake Activities

Snake Locomotion

Learn how snakes move by studying their tracks.
Learn how snakes move by studying their tracks.

How do snakes move without legs? Learn about snake locomotion in this activity.

Snakes are highly evolved reptiles. They move quickly without legs, which gives them some advantage over reptiles that push themselves along with legs while dragging their bellies on the ground. But how is it possible to move without legs?

What You'll Need:

Snake (a pet or a garter snake from your backyard)

Sandbox or large tray filled with sand


First, get permission to use a snake. You may have a friend who keeps a snake, or you might be able to catch a small garter snake in your backyard. If you aren't experienced in handling snakes, get an adult to help you.

Rake a sand box (or a sand tray) level. Use the back of a rake to make the surface smooth. Set the snake at one end of the sand and let it crawl to the other end.

Put the snake safely back in its cage, then examine the tracks it left. You'll notice curved indentations in the sand where the snake's body pressed down.

The snake uses the curves and coils of its body to press against the ground, moving it forward. Its belly scales, large and rough, give it gripping power like tire treads.

Smooth the sand again and see if you can make the snake move at a different speed. See how the tracks change. Are they further apart? Sometimes snakes move in nearly straight lines. They can use muscle ripples and their belly scales to creep along slowly.

Now that you've watched snakes in action, find out how to make a snow snake on the next page.

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