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How Snakes Smell

Many snakes, including this Common Gartersnake, use smell to track their prey.  In the roof of a snake’s mouth are two openings, called the vomeronasal  organ, also known as Jacobson’s organ.  Snakes smell by sticking their forked tongue in the air, keeping it constantly moving while they collect particles (mostly pheromones) on it from the ground, air and water.  Next they pull their tongue back into their mouth and insert it into their Jacobson’s organ (one fork in each opening).  Then the particles are analyzed and the snake determines whether prey or a predator is in the vicinity.  

5 responses

  1. Great pictureasalways! Kay

    May 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    Mary, I thought you might be interested in this beautiful collection of bird nest photos:

    Geococcyx californianus

    May 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    • Absolutely beautiful, Kathie. Amazing. I’ll have to take a look at her book! Thank you so much for pointing this out to me.

      May 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm

  3. Cecelia Blair

    More on snakes, please! I am a great fan of milkshakes, for their beauty and rodent catching abilities. Don’t see them as often as I’d wish. Are they scarce or just very good at hiding?

    May 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    • To my knowledge, they’re not scarce Cecelia, but they are nocturnal, which might explain why we don’t see them more often!

      May 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm

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