The Sun Snake
The sun snake, Crotalus solis, is a close cousin of the rattlesnake, and is found all around the southern U.S.A., as well as northern Mexico. The well-versed snake-admirer will recognize its three distinctive horns, which it uses to pinpoint temperature fluctuations in its surroundings.
Like all snakes, and reptiles in general, the sun snake is cold-blooded, meaning that it has no means to autonomously regulates its body-temperature. Unlike other reptiles, however, the sun snake does not go from sun to shadows in order to maintain an optimal temperature. Instead, it will always seek out the hottest places it can find, and use the increased temperature to drastically accelerate its metabolism. Hence its name.
This peculiar behavior has puzzled researchers for some time, since the uncontrolled increase in temperature can lead to internal damage, and, in some cases, death. It was only recently that doctor Edward Visper, of the California Institute of Slithering Stuff (CISS), has found the biological reason behind this strange habit.
Contrary to what we thought, it is only female snakes that seek to drastically increase their temperature, and only once they carry fertilized eggs. The increase in temperature allows them to speed up to development of the embryos drastically, and thus provide their offspring with a jump-start into life, which greatly improves their chances of survival. The occasional death, or internal damage, is offset by the evolutionary advantage to their descendants.
The sun snake has always fascinated the native people of its habitat, and a number of indian tribes in the region reference it in both their customs and believes. Due to its extreme aggressivness when it is heating up, as well as the increased potency of its poison, most people have seen it as an emissary of the sun, representing the anger of the star. A few tribes have gone further, and see the taming of a heated up sun snake as a rite of passage for their shamans, who thus demonstrate that they can quell nature's fury with their powers.
In recent years, due mainly to the higher fluctuation in temperatures, sun snake populations have become instable, rising rapidly after hot summers, and falling drastically during cold ones. In addition, recent heat-waves have driven the animals into a frenzy, making them extremely dangerous. We all remember the horrible tragedy of Clarkson Elementary School, where a class came across a sun snake during a hiking trip on a particularly hot summer day, and fourteen students where bitten by the frenzied animal, nine of whom later died from the poison.
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