Why are there no snakes in Ireland?
January 16, 2007 12:03pm CST
Can anyone please tell me the reason why there are no snakes in Ireland? A name of a book, or a website containing info would be most helpful. Thank you
30 Jan 07
not only are there no snakes, but no native turtles. You can find frogs, one salamander, called a newt, and one lizard that bears its young alive. It seems that practically all forms of life were wiped out during the Ice Age. Since Ireland is an island surrounded by salt water, no great variety of land animals nor freshwater fishes have colonized it since it was uncovered by the melting of the glaciers. For example, Ireland has only about a third as many species of wild mammals as Illinois and scarcely a tenth as many kinds of strictly freshwater fishes. A few others migrate up its rivers from the sea. Its bird life, only an hour's flight away from Britain, is not much different from other north European countries. You can find more info here... http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/NewsEvents/irelandsnakes.cfm http://www.st-patricks-day.com/about_saintpatrick.asp http://www.thegreatstory.org/IslandsContinents.html
16 Jan 07
Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland. Sometime back in the fifth century he stood on a hill, the story goes, and used a staff to herd the slithering creatures into the sea, banishing them for eternity. It's true, aside from zoos and pets, there are no snakes on the emerald isle. In fact, there never were any snakes in Ireland. This state of affairs probably has more to do with the vagaries of geography than any neat tricks performed by St. Patty. Snakes first evolved from their lizard forebears about 100 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period, about the same time that Tyrannosaurus rex first appeared. Early snakes were small and wormy, resembling modern blindsnakes (suborder Scolecophidia). Ancient snake fossils are found only on southern continents, suggesting that snakes first radiated from Gondwanaland—a former supercontinent comprised of modern-day Antarctica, South America, Africa, India, and Australia. Migrating to Ireland wasn't an option at this time, as the area was completely underwater. The chalky sediments that would eventually become the 700-foot Cliffs of Moher on Ireland's west coast were being laid down at the bottom of the sea.