Do Snakes Have Taste Buds? (Everything You need to Know!)

Do Snakes Have Taste Buds

Have you seen a snake flick its forked tongue, and wondered do snakes have taste buds?

Snakes don’t have taste buds. However, their sense of taste is different from other animals. There’s a sensory organ on the roof of their mouth known as Jacobson’s organ. This organ gathers smell and processes tastes. 

That said, let’s dive deeper into how snakes taste and smell their food.

Why do snakes flick their tongue?

Snakes use their tongue as a tool to collect chemicals from the ground or air.

The tongue transfers these chemicals to Jacobson’s organ for analysis. While most creatures use their tongue for tasting, cleaning, making sounds, and manipulating prey, it’s totally different with snakes.  

When you see a snake flick its tongue, what comes to mind is whether it’s for predatory or defensive purposes. But, it’s neither of them.

Snakes flick their tongue to extract the chemicals from the air or ground. It’s such a fascinating process.

This behavior is due to the fact that snakes have no receptors in their tongues to taste food.

However, their receptors are located in Jacobson’s organ.

What’s the Jacobson’s Organ?

Jacobson’s organ is found on the roof of the snake’s mouth and located at the bottom of the nasal cavity. This organ comprises two ducts connecting to the mouth’s roof.

Whenever a snake flicks its tongue, the particles on the ground or in the air physically connect to the tips of the forks. Once the tongue flicks inside the mouth, the tip touches the duct of Jacobson’s organs. This sends the smell particle to the organ that the snake smells.

Forks in snake’s tongues serve multiple purposes: it gives snakes their unique appearance and provides a sense of smell.

It also allows them to simultaneously gather chemicals from different places as long as they’re close to each other.

The tongue flicking behavior of a snake also forms its hunting ability. Snakes can catch their prey by getting chemical information about their environment when they flick their tongue.

It allows them to each trail the scent of their prey, helping them identify and catch their next food.

Do snakes enjoy their meal?

One of the common topics of discussion among pet snake owners is if snakes enjoy the frozen mice given to them to eat. The answer is that we’re not sure yet.

Snakes prefer to eat a specific type of prey than others, meaning they enjoy some food more than others.

If you notice that your snake rejects a particular food, you can spice it up by rubbing the food with its favorite scents, for example, dead toads.

Your snake will fickle their tongue on the food you present before eating, showing that they’re attracted to certain tastes and smells. This is a sign that snakes enjoy the taste and smells of some meals over others.

Snakes are complex. Because your snake rejects the food you give it doesn’t mean the taste and smell of the food are bad. There are several reasons snakes don’t want to eat.

For instance,  if a snake has a very cold enclosure, it can cause it to feel stressed and, in turn, lose its appetite.

Snakes are extremely sensitive. Apart from stress, an illness can also make them lose their appetite.

You might be interested in Do Snakes Eat Berries? 

How to identify a hungry snake

While snakes can go for months without food, it doesn’t mean they don’t get hungry. How do you identify a hungry snake ready to devour its next meal?

A snake is hungry when It begins to fickle its tongue more frequently than usual. Or when it prowls around in its enclosure.

Can snakes smell with nostrils?

A lot of people think that snakes only smell through the tongue and use their nostrils for breathing purposes, but that’s not true.

Snakes combine their tongues, nostrils, and Jacobson’s organs to smell things in their surroundings. And experts and still researching how they’re able to get that done.

Do snakes have a great sense of smell?

Yes, snakes have a great sense of smell, making up for their bad eye health. Snakes have poor vision and usually pick out shapes with little detail. But they have excellent smell ability and can detect other snakes.

How many sense organs do snakes have?

Snakes have six sense organs: smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing, and can identify the heat of other animals. Not all of these senses are properly developed. They don’t hear the same way we do and can’t see like us. Snakes can only see two primary colors instead of three like a human.

Final thoughts

 Snakes are unique creatures with amazing bodies crafted to function properly in their environment as predators.

Snakes have a different smell and taste from other animals. They don’t have taste buds and can taste using Jacobson’s organ, which connects the tongue and the brain to identify tastes and smells.

This article has touched on the exciting ways snakes can taste and smell food and the environment around them. We hope we’ve answered questions on do snakes have taste buds.



I'm Jennifer Mecham, worked for 7 years in an animal shelter in New York. I created this blog to educate people about these amazing creatures and to show them that reptiles can make great pets. Join me on this journey as we explore the world of reptiles.

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