Aesculapius Snake

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Aesculapius’ Snake

 

(Elaphe longissima), a reptile of the family Colubridae. Aesculapius’ snake may reach 140 cm in length. The coloration varies from brownish yellow and gray to brown and almost black. There is sometimes a thin, light-colored netlike pattern on the upper part of the body.

Aesculapius’ snake is found in southern Europe and Asia Minor. In the USSR it is found in the western regions of the Ukraine, in the southern part of Krasnodar Krai, and in Transcaucasia. The snake inhabits forests in mountains and foothills. It feeds on rodents, small birds, and lizards. It is not venomous and strangles its prey by squeezing it with the rings of its body. The female lays five to eight eggs.

It is conjectured that this is the snake depicted in classical times on the staff of Aesculapius, the god of medicine. The snake is now represented on the caduceus.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.