Care of Reptiles
Turtles and Tortoises

Why do snakes stick out their tongues?

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2016-10-12 12:31:42

A snake sticks out its tongue to collect data for its Jacobson's

Organ, an organ strategically located in front of the roof of the

snake's mouth that functions as a chemical receptor. Each and every

time the snake flicks out its forked tongue, it snares chemical

particles in the air, which latch onto, or dissolve in, the

moisture of the snake's tongue. Once the snake reels in its tongue,

it inserts the tips of the forked tongue into the two awaiting

openings of the Jacobson's organ where the particles, especially

those of animal body odors, are identified, analyzed, and acted

upon (if a nearby animal is potential food, or perhaps an enemy).

Male snakes also use their tongues as part of a courting ritual,

that is, the process by which they figure out if a certain female

snake is interested in mating with them. The male snake jerks his

body around, snapping his tongue in and out, and if the female

ignores him, he knows to keep looking for a suitable partner. If

she responds favorably, he's found his mate.

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