Can Snakes Smell Fear?

Snakes make fantastic pets.

Everything from their color, skin to their mysterious mannerism is reason enough to appeal to most reptile fanatics.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of adopting a pet snake is to be able to observe it at close range at all hours of the day.

You see, snakes are nothing if not fascinating.

These versatile creatures are a throwback to prehistoric times.

And, while some snakes are Nature’s ultimate predators, other snake species are truly harmless beings. 

In recent years, snakes have gained unbelievable popularity as domestic pets.

Indeed, it may be the fact that so much has yet to be learned about these amazing animals that make them so irresistible for many animal lovers.

Yet, you will always run into a person who will shriek the instant they see your snake.

And, in response, your snake, too, will recoil or hiss. 

So, it is that many pet parents wonder if their snakes can sense fear.

Well, you need not wonder anymore.

Yes, there isn’t a doubt in the minds of many animal physiologists that snakes do feel fear.

Let’s delve straight into the matter of snakes and their capacity to sense human emotions as well as their ability to smell fear.

Do Snakes Feel Fear?

Snakes have an acute sense of smell.

Hence, it is that snakes are able to sniff out their prey even when it is far away.

Furthermore, snakes such as pythons, vipers, and boas have holes on their faces called pit organs.

And, the pit of snakes consists of a membrane that can detect infrared radiation from warm bodies. 

Hence, your pet companion can easily detect when a visitor comes around your home and is petrified at the sight of your buddy serpent.

You see, when humans feel fear, their entire human physiological system reacts in response to that emotion.

The blood pressure surges, the body temperature rises, the heart and respiratory rates spike, and there is pupil dilation as well as muscle contraction. 

Now, you as a human may not be able to discern any changes in your friend’s demeanor.

Still, your clever little pet can recognize the alterations in your friend’s biological system with its superior senses.

And, yes, when your snake will witness these changes, it will, too, have a response.

Yes, research and scientific studies have yet to produce empirical evidence that snakes do not experience emotions such as love or joy.

But, research clearly indicates that snakes do feel fear.

So, you will find that a snake will use its senses not just to catch prey but also to avoid its predators.

Additionally, there have been many reported cases where docile snakes such as the ball pythons have been known to attack when they have been approached suddenly by a stranger instead of their pet guardians.

What Do Snakes Do When Scared?

There are as many as 3000 snake species in the world.

And, quite a large percentage of the snake kind is relatively harmless.

Yet, you will also find venomous or poisonous snakes, and either type can cause significant damage to humans. 

Yet, when you look at the general behavior of snakes, you’ll notice an apparent trend.

Snakes are solitary creatures that like to be left to their own devices.

Most snakes, even the poisonous and venomous kind, avoid confrontations or fights.

They do hunt for prey.

But, they don’t like to have a crowd around them to applaud their skills.

The dynamics that rule Nature are simple – you kill, or you get killed. 

So, many animal experts believe that snakes tend to bite or attack only when they feel fear or threatened.

Unfortunately, snakes tend to be territorial, and if you or an animal unknowingly enters their space, they strike to kill.

However, domestic snakes such as the ball pythons or corn snakes are unbelievably docile and shy beings.

It is very much possible for these snakes to feel fear to the same extent as a snake in the wild.

But, their reactions often vary.

You see, domestic snakes tend to recoil or hide away when they feel threatened. 

Animal experts also believe that snakes can become familiarized with the human touch.

So, it is that your pet snake may be able to tell the difference between your touch and that of a stranger.

And, if your pet serpent doesn’t like being around strangers, it’s probably going to hide out in its enclosure rather than strike the hand that is trying to touch it.

Can Snakes Smell Blood?

According to Kurt Schwenk, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, snakes have regular noses.

But they sniff much better when they stick their tongues out and make use of a pair of organs at the roof of their mouths called Jacobson’s or vomeronasal organ. 

You see, tongue-flicking is triggered in snakes when they come across an odor that intrigues them.

And, the tongue of a snake is designed to pick scents far more accurately.

Hence, it is through tongue-flicking that snakes can stay on the trail of ascent. 

There’s no denying that snakes can make out the difference between various odors.

But, you have to understand that snakes aren’t attracted to the scent of blood the way scavengers are drawn to blood.

Snakes are predators that hunt live prey.

They are most likely able to smell blood as their sense of smell is profound.

Yet, snakes do not follow the scent of blood to find food.

Related article – Can snakes drown?


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