Welcome at snakedatabase.org! We are a non-commercial open-source project. Our mission is to simplify snake identification because this saves lifes. If you spot a snake, you would probably have this question in mind: Is this snake venomous or otherwise dangerous to humans?

To answer this question, you need to accurately identify the snake by species. This is important, as there is no general way to distinguish between venomous or non-venomous snakes. There are some rules of thumb (e.g. "venomous snakes have slit eyes") but these work only on some local environments. They can and do lead to wrong identification and should be avoided.

Big Data Collection

To positively and accurately identify a snake, you would need various attributes and characteristics. Snakes can show a great diversity in their appearance, even within the same species. We are focussing on the following data, as it gives you a solid toolset for snake identification and classification.

  • Snake images (currently taken from Arkive, Flickr & iNaturalist)
  • Morphological data (e.g. snake size, dentition, pupil shape)
  • Distribution data (e.g. horizontal and vertical distribution)
  • Toxicological classifications (Is it venomous? Or otherwise dangerous to humans?)
  • Common names (Local people use local and not scientific names)

For each of the existing ~3500 snake species, dozens of data records are required. This is big data and you need it, because in most cases it is not a single feature that helps to identify a snake. It is the combination of various features. By running combined searches, you can easily filter out certain species from the whole lot. And here the specific structure of snakedatabase.org comes in handy.

snakedatabase.org vs. Wikipedia

Most zoological databases around (e.g. Wikipedia, IUCN red list) store their data in text fields. Text fields are easy to fill and to maintain, but filtering options are limited. It can be very difficult to find specific data. With snakedatabase.org, we follow a different approach. Whenever possible, we store data as values or attributes. This method of operation needs more effort in data collection, but this is well invested time, as you can see by the following example.

Task: You want to find both the 3 smallest and the 3 largest viper species by body length. Try to identify these species first in Wikipedia, then at snakedatabase.org

Solution: In Wikipedia, you would have to open the pages of all vipers to manually dig out this data. It will take hours, as there are ~330 different species listed in the family Viperidae. snakedatabase.org is much faster by design. Here you open the Search, and filter for family "Viperidae". Then click on the header "Length (max)" in the search result to get the results sorted by body length. This will take less than a minute of your time.

The solution described above is just a simple example that is currently working with the website. The structure of snakedatabase.org allows to create much more sophisticated queries in future, like "what snakes in Thailand have round pupils and live on 2000 meter above sea level?".

Snake Fact sheets

One integral part of our the data collection are the fact sheets for each snake. Here you can see all data that is stored for a specific snake, e.g. for the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). As you can see from the blue "ref"-links, we do reference all data. Any information that we put in is referenced and trackable to its original source. Have a look at the field "Snake Length" at the King Cobra fact sheet. You will find a size range from 40 cm (small neonate) to 585 cm (very large adult). Just have a look at the source data on the reference page.

Upcoming improvements

snakedatabase.org is a project in the built. To be more precise: It is in the built since 2012 and since then, we are constantly working on it. Right now we are developing better search queries; and data input is always ongoing. For 2018 major updates are in preparation. If you like this website, visit us again. There will be new and exciting stuff to find out. In case you want to actively contribute, please drop me a mail.

Enjoy nature & don't get bitten,

Sascha

P.S. Have a look at our page LD50 of venomous snakes. It is the most comprehensive collection of LD50 records (including fang sizes and venom yields) that is currently online. Did you ever wonder how many 🐭🐭🐭 can be killed by the venom of a single 🐍? Look up our page, we have a very detailed answer!