The Difference Between Snakes And Vipers

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 20, 2017
The Difference Between Snakes And Vipers

Are snakes and vipers the same thing? Are these two terms synonymous? These two terms are often used interchangeably to refer to a single animal, but in reality there are differences in what they mean. So in this OneHowTo article we explain the basics of snake taxonomy (the different types of snakes) by explaining the difference between snakes and vipers so you can assign each species intotheir sub-classifications.

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Different Types of Snakes

Snakes are a suborder of reptiles characterized by having no legs and a long cylindrical body usually covered with scales.

Scientifically, like all other animals suborders, snakes are divided into different classifications according to an evolutionary tree:

  • family
  • subfamily
  • genus
  • subgenus
  • species
  • subspecies
The Difference Between Snakes And Vipers - Different Types of Snakes

Which Snakes are Colubridae

Colubridae is a classification of snakes that includes about 1800 species. Species size is usually between 20 and 30 cm. They are characterized by having a head covered with large scales and although they are usually found on land, although there are some species of water snakes, amphibious species, digging species, etc.

It is the Colubridae family of snakes with the greatest number of genera and species as, for a long time, it was used as a 'miscellaneous' classification that included species that could not be classified elsewhere. Therefore the term can sometimes be mistakenly used to refer to all snakes which are not poisonous.

The Difference Between Snakes And Vipers - Which Snakes are Colubridae

Which Snakes are Vipers

Vipers are a subfamily of snakes (Viperinae) which in turn are part of the Viperidae family, which also includes rattlesnakes (Crotalinae). They are characterized by being poisonous and having long sharp fangs. They have a triangular head and move quickly to attack their prey. They are usually wider compared to other sub-species.

The Difference Between Snakes And Vipers - Which Snakes are Vipers

How are Snake Species Classified into Different Groups

To know the difference between snakes and vipers, broadly speaking, we can define the difference between Colubridae and Viperidae snake in the fact that Colubridae and Viperinae or vipers are two different classifications of snake, each being a family and subfamily respectively of this animal.

So actually, Vipers are different to Colubridae, but they can still be referred to as Snakes as a general term. Colubridae on the other hand should not be referred to as vipers, which are a specific subgroup of snakes. So there you have the basic classifications of the different groups of snake.

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