Do All Snakes Have Tongues? Unraveling the Mystery

Snake tongues, called forked tongues, are one of the reptiles’ most distinguishing features. They stick them out multiple times while hunting, but since they don’t speak or chew with them, do they have any significant function? Which snakes don’t have tongues?

All snakes have tongues to perform sensory functions. When hunting, they act as smelling organs for direction toward potential prey. This tracking method gives them the upper hand in stalking their prey. Their tongue also helps them find shelter & select mates.

Keep reading this article to learn about snakes’ forked tongues and their value to the reptiles’ lifestyles.

All Snakes Have Tongues

If you’ve monitored snakes for any amount of time, you’ll notice that they habitually stick out their tongues. It doesn’t seem significant, especially when they aren’t fighting, eating, or even hissing.

However, snakes’ forked tongues are arguably their most powerful organ. Their primary function is to “smell” the environment through the air molecules, which can further provide even more benefits to them.

Snakes’ Tongues Can Locate Prey

Like every organism, a snake must eat to remain alive, and being a carnivore, it must hunt other animals for food. Snakes flick their tongues to locate the nearest prey when they want to eat. They follow the scent trail to the organism, analyze the size to ensure they can swallow it, then attack.

If the snake wins the struggle, it swallows the animal whole. If not, it tries to recover from the possible wound and trails another potential prey with its tongue again.

Snakes Can Understand the Environment With Their Tongues

Compared to mammals, snakes are primitive animals. Their eyesight is poor, and they aren’t known to feel the surroundings with their scale-covered skin as well as required. Many have also lost their hearing abilities through the course of evolution.

Therefore, they turn to their tongues to decode the area for any dangers. 

They can understand the surrounding topography, objects, and soil with tongue flicks. It facilitates simple habits like avoiding water bodies when necessary or complex ones like discovering hiding spots quickly when fleeing a predator.

Without their tongues, it’d be quite challenging to lead their regular lifestyle. However, they can adapt to the tongues’ absence.

Snakes Use Their Tongues To Get To Know Others Better

Aside from understanding their environment and detecting potential prey, snakes also use their tongues to know more about their owners & mates. Whether it’s one of their kin they hope to identify or another that can potentially be their mating partner, the forked tongue is also vital for recognition.

Although herpetologists are yet to provide more details about the mode of operation, pet snake owners have admitted their pet recognizes them. Hence, we can credit their forked tongues since it’s their best sensory organ.

Therefore, all snakes have forked tongues to help them lead their lives.

The tongues are split in half at their tips, pulling air molecules with chemicals into snakes’ mouths. Then, the molecules reach unique organs at their mouth’s roof for interpretation. The snakes can now understand whether to move closer or farther from the area based on what they’ve sensed.

Final Thoughts

Snakes’ tongues are important accessories because they ultimately aid their survival. Their sensory function helps them perform these activities:

  • Locate potential prey and track them for food.
  • Understand the environment.
  • Ascertain more about other snakes.

All snakes have them because their other organs are rather insufficient for sensing. They barely see, feel, or hear, so their forked tongues adequately help them. They stick it out continuously to capture air molecules, interpreted by Jacobson’s organs.

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