How do snakes communicate?


Quick Answer

Snakes communicate with each other by using their well-developed vomeronasal system to collect chemical cues the other snakes emit. They also leave behind chemicals called pheromones to share information about themselves.

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Full Answer

As solitary animals, snakes seldom communicate with each other. They communicate mostly to find, secure and defend breeding partners. Snakes are not capable of clearly hearing airborne sounds. They use their senses of taste and smell to analyze chemical cues in the surroundings. Their vomeronasal system enables them to communicate with each other, find prey and smell nearby predators.

The central component of their vomeronasal system is called the Jacobson’s organ, which is found inside the mouth. It has two openings that receive chemicals, allowing snakes to smell the environment and identify the location of an odor. The Jacobson’s organ gathers chemicals from the surroundings each time a snake flicks its tongue.

Snakes also collect pheromones to determine the age, gender and reproductive state of other snakes. Additionally, some male snakes express their dominance by fighting other males, particularly during the breeding season when female snakes are nearby. The males communicate their dominance by keeping a higher physical position than a rival, pushing the adversary’s head to the ground or by biting.

Moreover, snakes exhibit tactile communication by twitching or jerking. These movements help them determine if a female snake approves of them. Female snakes sometimes lift or wave their tail to show their approval.

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