Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging...

Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizard
Legless lizard
Legless lizard may refer to any of several groups of lizards which have independently lost limbs or reduced them to the point of being of no use in locomotion. It is the common name for the family Pygopodidae, but often refers to other groups, such as limbless anguids, depending upon the region of...

s by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates
Squamata, or the scaled reptiles, is the largest recent order of reptiles, including lizards and snakes. Members of the order are distinguished by their skins, which bear horny scales or shields. They also possess movable quadrate bones, making it possible to move the upper jaw relative to the...

, snakes are ectothermic, amniote
The amniotes are a group of tetrapods that have a terrestrially adapted egg. They include synapsids and sauropsids , as well as their fossil ancestors. Amniote embryos, whether laid as eggs or carried by the female, are protected and aided by several extensive membranes...

Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s covered in overlapping scales
Scale (zoology)
In most biological nomenclature, a scale is a small rigid plate that grows out of an animal's skin to provide protection. In lepidopteran species, scales are plates on the surface of the insect wing, and provide coloration...

. Many species of snakes have skulls with many more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws
Cranial kinesis
Cranial kinesis is the term for significant movement of skull bones relative to each other in addition to movement at the joint between the upper and lower jaw. It is usually taken to mean relative movement between the upper jaw and the braincase....

. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung
The lung is the essential respiration organ in many air-breathing animals, including most tetrapods, a few fish and a few snails. In mammals and the more complex life forms, the two lungs are located near the backbone on either side of the heart...