Why does a snake constantly stick out
At many shows and lectures, we notice that visitors watch the tongue of the snakes flick in and out. It darts up and down sometimes and in other moments hesitates for just a second or so as if to catch something we cannot even see. It is this scary tongue that often leaves the feeling of "creepy, crawly, slimy" when it comes to snakes!
The damp tongue of the snake is actually a very precise instrument and acts as a highly developed sense of "taste". Upon the outstretched tongue (forked to give more surface area), micro-particles become attached which help communicate to the snake a little of what is going on around it. This works due to a specialized system in the roof of the mouth known as the Jacobson's Organ. As the tongue moves in and out, it passes up into this incredible little system which is finely connected to the smell sense. The snake thus actually "tastes" of the air to determine such critical information needs as food, moisture, danger, prey, shelter, etc.
This unique sense is also the ultimate tracking device! We have observed and tested snakes to note that this tongue is their primary and absolutely awesome tracking system when it comes to locating bitten prey following a strike. Rattlers seldom grip their victim after a strike since experience has taught them to release the animal quickly to prevent damaging retaliatory strikes during the frenzy following the bite. Instead, the tongue examines the ground for the tell-tale signs of a trail, and soon the prey is located! Even then, the tongue assists at a quick analysis of how the prey is positioned so that it can conveniently be swallowed head first. Since snakes do not chew their food, it is easier to swallow whole if the limbs fold up properly, not acting as a barrier or blockage in a backward, awkward position.
The amazing tongue is always brought
into play to provide useful data to the snake in its
quest for survival!
|Authored by CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS. This page last updated on 05/28/97.
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