How do snakes smell their environment?

Snakes have terrible eyesight, no real hearing, and no arms or legs, but they have an amazing sense of smell, though not in the traditional sense of you or me. The nostrils on top of a snakes head are there for breathing as well as for smelling. However, Snakes have an organ called the Jacobsen’s organ that is located in the roof of the mouth at the back of the snakes head. The snake flits its split (biracial) tongue in and out through the air and the chemicals in the air adhere to it. That information is transferred to the Jacobsen’s organ. This organ then sorts and deciphers the information and tells the snake everything it can about its surroundings. With its tongue, it can “smell” things like the presence of a predator, the aroma of prey, incoming weather, and the location of a willing mate.

It can also smell in stereo so that it can actually tell if the smell is coming from the left or right. Its ability to use these signals allows it to accurately track and hunt its prey with an almost uncanny preciseness and ensures that the snake will be able to eat. The fact that the snake can not only determine that there is a predator in the vicinity, but also ascertain the level of danger involved and how far away it is, as well as the direction from which the danger will come. All this information gives the snake a definite advantage in choosing whether to fight or flee. When looking for a mate, all knowledge that has been gathered by the snake’s tongue can be used to determine the gender, age, and availability of all the snakes in the vicinity.

The snake can also check for possible rivals that might be lurking in the area. At times, some weather conditions cause a change in the atmosphere that can release certain smells. If the snake can “smell” an incoming storm, it can make its way to safety. As the snake moves about, he too is spreading pheromones that not only adhere to the ground, but can float around in the air as well. Each snake, as it moves, is broadcasting information for other snakes about its habits, personal traits, and other pertinent information. The way a snake “smells” is a valuable tool to help it to stay informed about the world around it

Read the How to get rid of snakes page for helpful information and to learn more about How do snakes smell their environment?

How do snakes smell their environment?

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