Dale Williams, age 10, of Skyland, North Carolina, for his question:
Can a snake back out of a hole?
This sort of question comes from a true nature lover a person who can see an animal's problems. Snakes like to crawl into burrows made by gophers, moles and other tunnel builders. Sometimes a snake slithers down a smallish hole and you wonder how in the world he can get himself out again. No, he is not likely to try backing up. But this is not necessary. Burrowing animals build underground rooms in their narrow tunnels. Here the snake can make a U turn. If he can't find an underground chamber, chances are he can squeeze his pliable body around, make his U turn and wriggle out heat first.
His tummy has rows of movable scales that point backward. He uses them to grip the ground as he moves forward. The snake is not a brainy fellow with bright ideas. He never uses his scaley pegs to back up and most likely he could not do this even if he tried. In any case, if he can get down a hole, he can squeeze around and get out again.