We all recognize that snakes space sneaky, but not anyone appreciates just how fascinating this slippery slitherers and other awful creepy crawlies yes, really are! This week, we’re kicking off a collection in which we answer few of the most common questions human being ask around snakes and also other poisonous critters. Strap in for some freaky facts!

Sneaky snake Facts Volume 1


The long, forked tongue of a garter line (Thamnophis sp.). Da Vinci Science center (DSC) CC2.

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Why carry out snakes poke out their tongue?

You may have noticed that snakes poke the end their tongues a lot, specifically when they room on the move. This is because they use their tongues come “smell” the air, which help them navigate. This is referred to as chemoreception, i m sorry literally method the receiving (reception) of chemicals (chemo). Airborne chemistry stick to the snake’s tongue when it is poking out, and also the snake can identify the particles many thanks to a one-of-a-kind organ called the vomeronasal (or Jacobson’s) organ.


The vomeronasal (or Jacobson’s organ) enables snakes to detect airborne chemicals, in a similar method to just how we smell. Fred the Oyster CC4.

The vomeronasal body organ is located in the roof of a snake’s mouth, and there space two small entry feet that cause it – choose nostrils, yet on the inside of the mouth. Once the snake has actually waved its forked tongue approximately enough to gain a good coating that chemicals, it bring the tongue earlier into the mouth and presses the tips of the forks versus the organ – one fork pointer in each hole. This sends a signal come the snake’s brain, telling it what the “smell” is. And also if the signal is more powerful on one reminder of the tongue fork 보다 the other, it tells the line which direction that smell is comes from. This is exactly how snakes are able to find hidden prey. If you want to know just how snakes hiss, friend can discover out here!


Snakes, such as this environment-friendly tree python (Morelia viridis), room so functional that it might seem as though lock don’t have any bones – however they do! David441491 CC2.

Do snakes have bones?

As snakes room so flexible, it might be tempting to think the snakes have no bones. However, snakes carry out indeed have actually bones. In fact, they have actually hundreds – even much more than us humans.

Animals have the right to be classed together either invertebrates (animals with no backbone) or vertebrates (animals through a backbone). Invertebrates include pets like jellyfish, squid, spiders, and insects. Your bodies may be very soft and also squishy, prefer a worm, or castle may have actually an exoskeleton (a hardened external shell, such as that that a crab, beetle, or scorpion).

Snakes belong come the vertebrates, in addition to all other reptiles and amphibians, mammals, birds, and also fish. All these animals have an within skeleton.

Bones offer structure and also strength come bodies. Muscles are attached to bones, and this permits us to relocate as our muscles contract. Line need many bones so that they have the right to be both strong and flexible. They have actually a unique skull (more top top this later!) and also they have actually a an extremely long spine, made up of numerous vertebrae (the skeleton that make up our backbone). They likewise have numerous ribs, nearly the whole way down your body, to safeguard their organs. Some snakes catch and also kill their food by constriction. This way they constrict (tighten) their strong, muscular body roughly the animal they have actually caught and also squeeze it to death, through the assist of their bones. These snakes space super strong! other snakes catch and kill your prey utilizing venom. We will certainly be talking all around venom in a future blog, so store an eye out!


The skeleton the this Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) is mostly composed of numerous vertebrae and ribs. Stefan3345 CC4.

How do snakes eat such big things?

So, as soon as a snake has captured its prey, just how does it actually swallow miscellaneous so much bigger than its head? come answer this question, an initial we will certainly look in ~ the skull framework of a common vertebrate.


A polar bear’s sturdy skull helps do its bite therefore powerful. WitmerLab in ~ Ohio university CC4.

Most animals have skulls that are similar in structure to this polar bear’s skull (shown above). This skulls are made up of two key parts: the cranium (brain case) and also the mandible (lower jaw). There is likewise the maxilla (upper jaw), yet in most animals it is fused to the underside of the cranium to kind one large, strong structure. The cranium and the mandibular skeletal lock into place and are hosted together by solid ligaments. Having only two key parts to a skull ensures that it is very solid and sturdy. This is crucial for all the biting and chewing that us do. However, it also restricts movement, and this method that we can’t open our mouths very wide. Check out this interaction website to compare the skulls of lots of various animals.

Snakes, however, have actually a very unique skull that is comprised of plenty of separate bones. Both the upper and lower jaws are separation into two components each (left side and also right side), and the cranium is likewise separate. The skeletal are hosted together by versatile ligaments, but they do not lock into place in the method that many other animals’ skulls do. This makes the snake’s skull incredibly flexible, and the jaw is able come stretch widely in lot of directions.


The skull of this tree boa is do of many unfused bones the are organized together through tissue and ligaments. WitmerLab at Ohio college CC4.

Snakes are even able to relocate the left and also the ideal side of the jaw independently. By relocating one next of the jaw forward as the various other side grips the food, they space able to gradually pull the food further into their mouth. This is how they room able to swallow such huge prey totality – and also using no hands!

A large meal because that this African rock python. Alex_griffiths CC2

This week, we have learnt a bit around how snake find, catch, and also swallow their prey. Next time, us will discover out what wake up to your bodies as soon as they have actually swallowed something for this reason big! us will likewise talk around another predation strategy – venom.

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If you have a burning question that you want us to prize in our following blog, feel cost-free to drop us an email.

Thanks because that reading and also don"t forget come check back for an ext sneaky snake facts and other information around venomous critters!