How Do Snakes Adapt to Their Environment?

Greg Schechter/CC-BY 2.0

Snakes adapt to their environments in a variety of ways, including growing longer, relying on their sense of smell rather than sight or by adopting coloring that mimics that of more venomous snakes. Snakes also adapt physical characteristics that allow them to quickly move through their natural habit. Some snake adaptations took place relatively early in the snake’s evolution, but other adaptations are continuing to take place.

One of a snake’s most useful abilities is the ability to smell with its tongue. Relying on its forked tongue, a snake can easily tell which direction their prey is in. This adaptation occurred to allow snakes to hunt during dusk and dawn when visibility is low.

In Australia, the presence of a non-native toxic toad has forced many snakes to adapt. In response to this creature, many Australian snakes have grown longer. According to scientists, the extra length gives snakes the ability to digest this snake without being affects by its poison.

Snakes that eat large prey have adapted jaws that allow them to do so. To allow the jaw to open as wide as possible, it is only connected to the snake’s skull with a bit of ligament. Once the prey is in, the snake creates additional swallowing room by displacing its breathing tube, another useful adaptation.