Have you ever noticed that snakes flick their tongues? Did you notice their tongue is forked (split into two)? Some people think this is strange… but the reason why is so cool!
Snakes have nostrils like we do, these are only to breathe. When a snake needs to smell, it uses it’s tongue! Flicking their tongue allows them to pick up tiny particles, or “a scent”, that are left behind by other snakes or animals. These particles are transferred into the snakes mouth to a small organ on the roof of their mouth called the vomeronasal organ or the “Jacobson’s organ”. This organ analyzes the scent and allows the snake to determine if what they are smelling is prey!
|DeKay’s Brown Snake – https://www.flickr.com/photos/pcoin/2307912302|
Now why is their tongue forked?? It gives snakes almost a 3D smelling experience! Instead of capturing a general smell, their sense of smell is now directional! This is the perfect tool to help them track prey or potential mates!
This forked tongue can capture scents from the left and right side of their head. If a “scent” is stronger on the right, the snake will know to move right. If the “scent” is equally strong on both sides, it will know to continue forward. How cool is that?!
So next time you see a snake flicking it’s tongue, he’s just giving you a sniff! =)
Three cheers for scaly snakes and swimming in lakes!