Do Snakes Blink?

Snakes are one of the most misunderstood reptiles in the animal kingdom. Many people, when encountering a snake in a closed space, such as a museum or zoo, may stare at the animal, wondering if it will blink. However, snakes are one of the few animals that you would always lose a staring contest with.

Biologically, snakes have no eyelids; instead, each eye is covered by one single, clear scales, which is used to protect the snake’s eyes from injury, as well as to prevent them from drying out. This process biologically is like how human eyelids work. However, this also means that snakes are unable to ‘blink’ or completely close their eyes, meaning that they must also sleep with their eyes open as well.

The snakes’ eye scales are an integrated part of its skin. This means that when a snake goes into ‘molting’, or shedding its skin, it must also shed the scales that cover its eyes. Before shedding, you may also notice that a snake’s skin becomes dull, making the eye scales either cloudy or completely opaque, depending on how close to molting it is: this is generally because, before shedding, the snake begins to secrete a milky fluid between the old and new skins, to help the process along. When the time comes for the snake the shed, snakes will rub their snouts against something hard until the old skin begins to split. They will then work their way out of their old skin, peeling it back from their lips to their tails, allowing them to shed their entire skin in one single piece. One the shed skin, the eye scales are incredibly obvious, as well, since the scales have come off with them.

Since the snake generally spends most of its time on the ground, they are surrounded by vegetation, grit, and dust in their faces while moving. These protective scales, often referred to as ‘spectacles’ will protect the sensitive corneas, keeping them from getting damaged or scratched by the dirt and grit that they will encounter when moving. The thin membrane cannot lie directly at the corneas, but can also be separated by the use of a fluid that looks like tears in humans, whose main function is to moisten the eyes.

The fluid in the snakes’ eyes, which helps with cleansing the eyes, much like tears do for humans, are produced by tear glands that are found behind their lenses. There are a pair of nasolacrimal ducts that drain the fluid in the roof of the mouth; however, since spectacles are attached to the skin, these ‘tears’ will never overflow outside of the eyelids, like they do with humans, which answers another biological question of ‘do snakes cry’.

Read the How to get rid of snakes page for helpful information and to learn more about Do Snakes Blink?

Do Snakes Blink?

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