Do snakes feel pain?

The ability of a snake to "feel" pain is difficult to judge because we as humans have a different standard of judging pain and the significance of pain or nociception (This is the ability understand and react to dangerous stimuli. This would be something that when encountered will evoke a reflex response either the entire snake, or the affected part of its body, and make it retreat as far away from the stimulus as possible. Nociceptors are the receptors that send stimulus to the brain to tell us we are in pain. In human terms, we touch the stove, it burns a finger, and we yank our hand away. We cannot communicate with snakes to determine a pain level, so it is just assumed that pain is felt to “ere on the side of caution”

"Pain" is defined by the IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain) as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” The only creature that can effectively communicate a pain's value and strength, and the level of suffering is the creature that is experiencing that pain.

For non-human animals, this is an almost impossible task. How can you presume to know whether a snake has undergone an emotional experience because of external or internal stimuli? Animal researchers have studied this problem and have the adjusted definition of pain in regards to snakes and other non-human creatures. Pain in snakes ( other non-human animals) is believed to be present when a negative sensory experience that is caused by an injury or potential for that injury produces an automatic protective reaction such a pulling back, running away, ducking, etc. It also takes in to account “learned avoidance” wherein the snake avoids taking a path or doing something because it that activity has “hurt” the snake in the past. Non-human animals cannot verbally communicate their feelings to humans in the same way that humans communicate with each other, but there are things we can do to understand them. By observing the normal behavior of snakes, we form an idea of their everyday behavior. When they are exposed to a situation that causes them physical damage or distress, observing these reactions can provides a reasonable indication as to how to determine if they are in pain, and the extent of that pain. Since snakes tend to avoid situations that would cause them physical damage or distress (like a fire) and tend to avoid situations that they know to be damaging (such as rocks that are too hot) we must assume that they do indeed feel pain.

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Do snakes feel pain?

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