Some snakes are faster than others and their length can affect their speed. A human can outrun a snake but cannot avoid its strike. Realistically, snakes aren’t known to chase people but tend to make a sudden and sneaky strike in 1/10th of second, and only in self-defense.
Are Snakes Faster than Humans?
Most snakes have trouble at a speed of 1mph and their average speed is between 1-3 miles per hour. Exceptional snakes like the Black Mamba have been documented to reach speeds of 10-12 miles per hour in short bursts and the Sidewinder at 18 miles per hour.
The Red Racer reaches a speed of about 3 miles per hour. The Red Racer and Black Mamba don’t attack humans if they are not aggressive toward them, so even these fast snakes aren’t really pursuit predators.
An average human runner can achieve a speed of 20 miles per hour which is more than any faster snake seen.
When snakes are in a panic, such as when they are being hunted or frightened, they can slither at a high speed, but they cannot slither faster than a human run.
Unless snakes are not hunted or surprised they tend to slither at a slow pace. Furthermore, most of the time they at rest due to slow metabolism.
Do Snakes Chase Humans?
No, snakes don’t generally chase humans. While many people do claim to have been chased by a snake, most of the time they’re just mistaken.
The snake was likely trying to get past you to go into his hiding place.
In general, a snake sees you as an enormous threat to his livelihood. You’re bigger than him and seen by the snake as a scary predator. They will almost always respond with a flight reaction, and only fight with you if they feel backed into a corner.
Of course, there might be very odd times when a snake attacks or runs at you. There’s a good chance that the snake is very afraid, agitated, or disoriented in these situations. In other situations, the fact you ran from the snake may have caused it to respond with a fight rather than a flight reaction.
How Do Snakes Slither?
Snakes don’t have limbs (except for some very rare exceptions who have stubs left over from evolution – see: do snakes have legs?).
So, they rely on the slithering motion to move.
To slither, snakes use both their muscles and scales. Scales on the belly and ribs of a snake enable them to grasp surfaces. Muscles are used to lower and lift these scales on the belly and ribs.
A snake will make wriggling S-shapes with its body. These S-shapes will involve pushing backwards at the ground, which propels the snake forward.
Furthermore, they will use their scales for grip. Scales grasp the surface on which snakes move and push it forward in motion. This mechanism of movement is similar to the tread of tires. The snake’s body is covered in myriad scales.
Snakes’ scales are composed of keratin. Humans’ hair, fingernails, and skin are also made of keratin!
In a nutshell, the combination of scales and muscles generate a rearward force, with the snake’s body thrusting forward as a result.
Which Snakes can you Outrun?
Snakes are often described as ‘fast’, but that’s based on the speed of their strike rather than the speed with which they slither. So, you could theoretically outrun all of them, including these speedy critters:
1. The Sidewinder
The sidewinder can thrust its body forward with a speed of 18 miles per hour, making them the fastest among snakes, but most humans could still outrun it at full-speed.
The sidewinder is a nocturnal pit snake and is frequently found in the deserts of the USA and Mexico. The snake has a unique style of movement.
Sidewinders don’t adapt the lateral undulation method for movement. They use scales to create indents in the desert sand, creating ridges. They then use these ridges to propel their body forward.
They have horns over their head that prevent sand from impeding the performance of their eyesight. These horns make these snakes distinctive.
2. The Black Mamba
The Black Mamba can move at the pace of 12 miles per hour if startled or hunted. They are the world’s second-fastest snakes and move in short bursts.
They are venomous snakes, 4 meters long, lithe, slender, and display great agility in their movement. They use lateral modulation for slithering on the ground.
While they move, they use objects in their path to produce a moment, creating an S shape on the ground.
Black Mamba is considered one of the most feared snakes in Africa due to its speed in a strike, venom, and aggressive attitude.
Black Mambas are afraid of humans and prefer to flee, but in panic, they can stand their ground firmly and are considered the world’s most aggressive snake.
3. Southern Black Racers
The Southern Black Racer is found in grassy landscapes and rocky hills. They are not considered venomous and are mostly found in Eastern America.
These snakes have a light body which enables them to produce a faster thrust and produce agility in the movement. They are 2 meters in length and can move at a pace of 10 miles per hour in short bursts.
Snakes are venomous creatures but they only attack humans when they feel threatened. Snakes cannot run. Rather, they slither, and only up to a maximum of 18 miles per hour. So, humans can outrun them.
The speed of snakes depends on their length and features which are varying in type of snakes. They prefer to sleep most of the time and use their speed to flee or (in short bursts) hunt for food. Their full speed capacity is revealed in wake of an attack or panic.