When you think about the fastest animals on Earth you probably think about the cheetah or another land animal with legs, right? Did you ever consider that an animal with zero legs could be so fast? In fact, faster than the blink of the human eye?
A recent study done by San Diego State University has shown that snakes are actually THAT fast! When snakes strike, they can move their head forward with more than 20Gs of acceleration. That is true even with nonvenomous snakes.
It was previously thought that venomous snakes were the only ones with this amazing speed. But recently, it was shown that at least one species of nonvenomous snake shows the same power and speed. This means that the need for a quick strike is not necessarily due to the use of venom.
Snakes most likely have evolved to strike this quickly to match with the reaction time of their prey. Mammals are known to be able to react at about the same speed as the blink of a human eye, between 60 and 395 milliseconds. This has forced snakes to up their reaction time to compete with their speed.
The study done by San Diego State University also showed that snakes can lunge forward approximately half a foot in 70 milliseconds. This distance covered paired with their speed leaves most mammal prey with no chance of survival. Even if the mammal had the chance to react in time, the amount of distance they would need to cover would impossible for most small mammals and rodents.