How Snakes Smell

Ever wonder what’s going on inside a snakes head when he’s flicking that crazy forked tongue in and out? Well, Enzoology has a couple answers for you! There is no animal that smells like a snake. It’s crazy!

The snake flicks it’s tongue in and out capturing scent molecules.

There are two openings on the roof of the snake’s mouth. They lead to a very sensitive spot called the Jacobson’s organ. The snake touches its tongue to this organ, rubbing off the scents it has collected. The organ checks out the smells and sends a message to the brain. Then the snake knows if a meal, mate, or enemy is nearby.

But why is the tongue forked? So the snake can smell “in stereo”! Each point on the tip of the tongue fits into one of the openings to the Jacobson’s organ. If the odor is stronger on one side, the snake can tell which direction the odor is coming from. This comes in handy for tracking prey, following the trail of a mate, or finding the way to a den where other snakes are gathering for the winter.

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