Do Non-Venomous Snakes Have Teeth?

Venomous snakes are known for their venom, of course, but also their specialized teeth or fangs that are used to inject venom. non-venomous snakes don’t tend to get the same level of recognition, but do non-venomous snakes have teeth?

It seems strange that an animal that doesn’t chew its food and instead swallows it whole would even have teeth, but teeth aren’t always used for chewing or eating and can make for a solid defense mechanism.

Do non-venomous snakes have teeth?

Yes, all snakes both venomous and non-venomous have teeth. This includes snakes of all species and sizes, even snakes that are no bigger than a worm!

While snakes swallow their prey whole and don’t tend to do much chewing, snakes still need and use teeth. Teeth are important for holding onto and handling prey, no matter how small their prey is.

Do non-venomous snakes have fangs?

No, non-venomous snakes do not actually have fangs. All snake fangs are teeth but not all teeth are fangs. Fangs are specialized teeth that venomous snakes have to inject their venom. Fangs are different in both function and structure to regular teeth.

Venomous snakes produce venom in a venom gland which is located just above the eye. The venom gland is connected to the fangs, and there are muscles around the venom gland that help to push venom from the venom gland to the fangs.

Fangs have a ridge or groove that runs down the middle of the fang, which allows the venom to travel through the groove and into the unlucky victim.

Non-venomous snakes can have long, sharp teeth that look very similar to fangs but are not actually considered fangs. They can also have very small teeth that would be hard to see.

Are snake teeth hollow?

Normal snake teeth that are not fangs are solid and not hollow. Even the fangs of most venomous snakes are not actually hollow, contrary to popular belief.

It used to be believed that all venomous snakes had hollow fangs, almost like hypodermic needles, that they used to inject their venom. This is the case for some species, but most venomous snakes have fangs that actually have a groove or ridges down their teeth that the venom slides down, rather than traveling through the actual tooth.

But non-venomous snakes do not have any hollow teeth.

How many teeth does a snake have?

This is dependent on the species. Snakes in the elapidae family (snakes like King Cobras, cobras, and coral snakes) may only have a few teeth, while snakes like pythons can have over 70 teeth.

For snakes with many teeth, they are normally organized in several rows. There are four vertical rows of teeth on the top jaw and two rows on the bottom jaw.


Do non-venomous snakes bite?

All animals can and will bite if they need to, including non-venomous snakes. If threatened, non-venomous snakes will bite in order to defend themselves.

That being said, snakes are afraid of humans and really would prefer to avoid us at all costs. This means that they will only bite as a last resort, like if they have been backed into a corner or cannot get away.non-venomous snakes obviously do not have venom as an added defense mechanism, but that doesn’t mean that they are unable to do any damage.

Are non-venomous snake bites dangerous?

non-venomous snake bites can be dangerous, but this depends on the size of the snake, where the bite is and various other factors. Larger non-venomous snakes can obviously inflict more damage than smaller ones.

Pythons for example have upwards of 70 razor sharp, rear facing teeth. The bigger the python (and pythons are some of the largest snakes in the world) the bigger the bite. And their rear facing teeth mean that the teeth are perfect for digging into skin and flesh, and only go deeper the more the victim pulls away.

The combination of break-neck speeds of a python’s strike and their sharp, hook shaped teeth have resulted in serious injuries for various keepers, pet owners, and wildlife enthusiasts. A bite from a python can be as serious as severed tendons or as mild as only broken skin.

Snake teeth, while sharp, can also be fairly fragile and make splinter when they make contact with skin. This sometimes leads to small fragments of teeth being embedded under the skin at the site of the bite. While tooth fragments typically push themselves out, if left untreated there is potential for infection which is something to look out for.

Do non-venomous snake bites hurt?

This is highly dependent on the situation- like the size of the snake, whether or not it managed to break skin, and whether or not the snake quickly struck and released or if it struck, bit down and held on.

Most of the time, if a snake bites, it will do so quickly and you might not even realize that it’s bitten you until after it happens. But in some cases, a snake may bite you and hold on which is not pleasant and can cause a lot more damage!

Bites from a non-venomous snake can cause bleeding, bruising, pain around the bite and in some cases infection. Bites from a venomous snake can cause these same symptoms in addition to the effects of the venom, which vary depending on the type of venom.

How do non-venomous snakes kill their prey?

Venom is the perfect tool to taking down prey, but what about non-venomous snakes?

This is where their teeth come in handy, non-venomous snakes hunt their prey- either by sitting and waiting for them to come by so they can ambush them or actively searching for and tracking down their prey.

Some snakes, like pythons and boas will strike and grab their prey with their large teeth where they will quickly wrap themselves around or constrict their prey. It was believed that constriction lead to the suffocation of prey, but researchers have discovered that contrictors like pythons and boas squeeze their prey with so much force, it causes the prey to essentially go into cardiac arrest.

However, not all non-venomous snakes are constrictors. Some non-venomous snakes kill their prey by using their teeth to hold onto the prey until they are in a position to start swallowing their prey whole. Snakes don’t chew their food, but their teeth help to make sure they can hold onto their meal.


Wrap up

For snakes, teeth aren’t only used for injecting venom. All snakes have teeth, whether they are venomous or not but venomous snakes have specialized teeth called fangs in addition to their “normal teeth”.

non-venomous snakes use their teeth to hold onto their prey, making sure it doesn’t get away but they can also use them in defense if need be! Most non-venomous snakes are harmless, but there are some that don’t need the help of venom and fangs to do some damage, and just their teeth will do the job.


Samantha S.

Samantha is an outdoor enthusiast and studying to get her masters degree in Environmental Biology. Her research focuses on snakes, sharks, and rays but she is knowledgeable about wildlife of all types.