Scales are one of the most recognizable features of the reptile body.
For many years, it was thought that snake scales played a multitude of roles: besides providing durable and flexible armor, many scientists believed scales also aided in movement and helped snakes regulate their temperature and retain water.
But are scales really that important? What happens when a snake is born without them?
Well, as it turns out, scaleless snakes actually seem to fare just as well as their scaled counterparts – at least in captivity. Though the research is still somewhat limited, scales don’t seem to have much of an affect on how snakes move. Studies carried out in 1972 showed no significant difference in temperature regulation or water retention either.
It’s also interesting to note that the scaleless snakes captured from the wild didn’t exhibit any more scarring than other members of their same species – a surprising finding to researchers, who thought their lack of armor would naturally lead to more injuries.
So while scaleless snakes may lack some of the camouflage and armor that their counterparts enjoy, it doesn’t seem that an absence of scales is a debilitating mutation by any means. Still, more research will have to be done to see if the lack of scales is a more significant issue for snakes in the wild.
Brian Barczyk is the owner of one of the largest reptile collections in the world. Check out his video below to learn more about scaleless snakes:
(h/t IFL Science)