Feb 4

The 10th of February 2013 will mark the start of Chinese New Year, and around the world many people will be taking part in colourful celebrations to welcome in the Year of the Snake. The snake is the 6th of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac, and those born in the year of the snake are said to be wise, calm and responsible.

According to ancient Chinese wisdom, a snake in the house is seen as a good omen and a sign that the family will not go hungry. Snakes are well known for their ability to swallow large prey, and after eating an impala whole, I don’t think this African rock python will be hungry any time soon either!

African rock python photo

During Chinese New Year the colour red is worn as it is considered to symbolise good fortune and joy. Red also represents fire and is thought to scare away evil spirits. Being characterised by its bright red belly, Kirtland’s snake is sure to fit in well at any New Year Celebration!

Kirtland's snake photo

Chinese New Year is tied to the lunar calendar, with the celebrations starting at the arrival of the new moon and continuing for 15 days. In Australia, the orange-naped snake is also commonly known as the ‘moon snake’. Although this species is venomous, it generally isn’t considered a danger to humans.

Orange-naped snake photo

There are several different stories regarding how the 12 animals were chosen for the Chinese Zodiac, and why they appear in the order that they do. One of the most popular tales tells of how the Jade Emperor declared that the animals must race across a fast flowing river, and that the 12 years of the zodiac would be named after the winners. Snakes are certainly excellent swimmers, with some species adopting an entirely aquatic lifestyle, such as the olive-brown sea snake.

Olive-brown sea snake photo

Chinese Year of the Snake – Get Involved!

Celebrate the Chinese Year of the Snake the wild way by joining us on Facebook and Twitter every day this week.

What does the Year of the Snake have in store for you? We’ll reveal all on Facebook! *Like* us to open your fortune cookie each day.

Love a challenge? Why not join our daily snake hunt on Twitter? Each day we’ll set you on a mission to hunt down some awesome snake photos and videos from ARKive. The winners can pick their favourite ARKive photos to go on the homepage. So what are you waiting for… start the snake hunt.

Here’s your first clue: Snake, rattle and roll – find and tweet a video of a rattlesnake shaking its thing! We’ll be waiting on Twitter to see if you track it down!

We have also launched a brand new snakes page full of amazing snake facts, photos a videos – make sure you check it out!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

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