California snakes can climb most vertical surfaces as long as there is something to “grip” onto. This means
rocks, trees, stairs and, yes, some types of walls. The wall cannot be smooth. A snake cannot “stick”
to walls the way a lizard can, so the wall has to be something other than a smooth surface. Even a rough
surface, such as stucco, cannot be climbed. However, if the wall were made out a rock or bricks placed at
different depths, a San Diego snake could climb it.
It is actually fairly easy for a San Diego snake to climb stair. A snake’s body is made up of hundreds of ribs and vertebrae that can expand and contract. They also have special kinds of scales on the underbelly that correspond to the ribs. This is what enables snakes to grip surfaces. First, let’s explore how a snake moves. There are four different ways a snake can move, depending on the type of snake it is. There is the Serpentine method in which the snake moves in a wavy motion using the scales underneath it to propel it. As these scales and its muscles need to hold on to something to move, they cannot move over slick surfaces with this motion. The Concertina motion is for tightly enclosed spaces. It is more of a push-pull method of moving. The front of the California snake extends as far as it can go, then grips the surface of the object with those scales, then pulls the back part of the snake forward.
The Sidewinding motion is used when the surface it is moving across is slippery. However, there is a rattlesnake in the southwestern United States that only moves in this fashion. Funny enough it is called a Sidewinder. The most common way a San Diego snake moves is in the Rectilinear motion which is just using those scales to grip the ground and its muscles and ribs to propel it forward. This is how snakes climb trees and rocks, and some walls. This is what brings us to stairs. The snake will lift its part of its body up while supporting it with its lower half. Once the California snake pushes itself up, it grips the top of the stair and pulls the rest of its body up. Repeating this motion over and over again will, of course, get the snake to the top of the stairs. Hope I am not there when it gets there!
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