Most scientists believe that snakes used to have legs.
There is even fossil evidence to back this up.
And if they had legs, they must have had hips, right?
Well, did you know that some snake species still retain leg bones to this day!
Do snakes have hips, then? At least the species with the leg bones?
It would make sense, after all. I mean, what are those leg bones attached to, if not hip bones?
Keep reading to learn if any modern snakes still have hips. We’ll cover everything you might want to know about the topic.
Table of Contents
Do Snakes Have Hips?
Snakes do not have hips. Their skeleton mainly consists of a spine and a lot of ribs. Just as with us humans, a snake’s skeleton protects all of its internal organs, especially the ribs.
Let’s take a closer look at the snake skeleton. As mentioned, some species surprisingly have leg bones, even though they do not have hips.
The Snake Skeleton
Snakes needs skeletons to protect all of their vital organs. They have a long spine and then a large number of tiny ribs that protrude from the spine to form the cylindrical structure of their bodies.
If snakes didn’t have skeletons, it would be easy to simply squash them, just like a slug. The bones also allow the snake to move more quickly and freely.
You may not think it, but snakes actually have a large number of bones in their bodies. The average snake has anything from 300 to 400 bones from head to tail tip. Now that is a lot of bones!
Snakes may not have hip bones, but a few do have leg bones. These bones are sometimes found in boa constrictors and pythons. These leg bones are located at the base of a snake’s tail.
Since snakes can’t walk, the leg bones don’t actually have any function and are often referred to as vestigial limbs.
This term refers to something that is now smaller and of little function, but used to be much more prominent and useful. Some believe snakes used to have lizard-like legs, but as they evolved, these legs disappeared.
If it is true that snakes used to have legs, then it is certainly possible that they also had hip bones.
The hip bones would have been attached to the backbone, which would have been connected to the limbs. But all that remains now is cartilage.
Why Snakes Don’t Need Legs
It is likely that snakes used to have legs, but were still able to slither. Of course, this was many, many years ago. They have evolved since then and now just slither.
Nowadays, snakes don’t need legs and they would most likely only get in the way of a modern-day snake.
For constrictor snake species, having legs would get in the way of them capturing their prey. They wouldn’t be able to squeeze the life out of their prey, if they had legs coming out of their body. It would make it easier for their prey to escape, leaving the constrictor considerably hungry.
If snakes had legs, they also wouldn’t be able to stay as low to the ground. It’s important for snakes to stay low, because it makes it easier for them to camouflage themselves and hunt their prey.
Snakes have gradually lost their legs over the course of millions of years. As the reptile adapted to new habitats and terrains and picked up new habits, they simply lost their need for legs over time.
Evidence of legs does show up in fossil records and in modern-day boas, where you can still find the aforementioned cartilage in their tail.
Can Snakes Break Their Bones?
Snakes are known for being resilient creatures, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t break their bones. A snake’s skeleton is made up of hundreds of different tiny ribs, so it can be quite common for some of them to break during a snake’s lifetime.
Because a snake’s bones are tiny, it does mean that a snake with a broken bone will heal quickly, since there isn’t much to fix. It may be rather painful, however, if they break more than one bone at a time!
With snakes being made of sturdy stuff, it can be quite difficult for them to break a bone. The most common way a snake will break one of its bones is through a traumatic injury, like someone or something stepping on it.
Snakes Do Not Have Hips: Final Thoughts
Now you know that snakes do not have hips. Not even the species that still retain vestiges of their legs. But you also know that there is a good chance snakes did once have hips.
If ancient snakes had full legs, they must have had something akin to a hip. And fossil evidence seems to bear that out. However, modern snakes are better served without hips and legs. Not having them makes their lives so much easier.