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Do Snakes Have Ears? Can Snake Hear You? Explore the Truth!

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Do snakes have ears? It’s a question that piques our curiosity and invites us into the intriguing realm of these captivating creatures. As we venture into the world of serpents, one cannot help but wonder about their ability to perceive sound. While our ears serve as prominent features on our heads, snakes present a different story. Their unique anatomy and evolutionary adaptations have led to an enigmatic question: Do snakes have ears? To uncover the truth behind this fascinating topic, we delve into the remarkable sensory mechanisms of these slithering reptiles. Join us on this captivating exploration as we unravel the mysteries of snake hearing and discover the extraordinary ways in which they navigate their acoustic world.

Do snakes have ears?

Do Snakes Have Ears

So if you’ve ever wondered, “do snakes have external ears?” The answer is no. However, they do have ears, though not in the same way humans do.

The human auditory system includes three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear.

Snakes don’t have an outer or middle ear, but they do have a fully formed inner ear.

Like other reptiles, snakes have two ears just behind the eyes. They have no external ears (also known as earmuffs, auricles, or pinnae), but do have small ear openings on the sides of their heads. There are three tiny bones in the middle ear in humans, and the one closest to the inner ear is called the stapes.

Snakes also have this bone in their bodies (referred to as the columella), but the difference is that it connects to their jaw, which is square walled. This means they are able to detect sound waves traveling through the ground because their jaw is against the ground when they move.

Snakes can detect where a sound is coming from by their ability to move both sides of their jaws independently. Despite this, they can only hear a fraction of human sounds. The average hearing range for snakes is 80-600Hz; by comparison, snakes can detect vibrations between 50 and 1,000 Hertz, while humans can feel between 20 and 20,000 Hertz.

Read more: Do snake eat fish?

Can my snake hear me?

Can my snake hear me?

Snakes have a limited range of audible frequencies compared to humans and some other animals. While humans can hear sounds ranging from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, snakes have a narrower range. Most snake species can detect frequencies between 80 Hz and 1,000 Hz, with some exceptions that can perceive higher frequencies. Their ability to detect low-frequency sounds is crucial for their survival in their natural habitats.

A snake won’t be able to recognize the sound of its name, but they do recognize patterns.

Let’s say you call your snake’s name before petting it. The snake may begin to associate its name with being petted, thus expecting to be petted whenever it hears its name. You can also make your snake associate you with safety based on your scent and voice if you care for him properly.

What is somatic hearing?

In addition to the inner ear, snakes have receptors called mechanoreceptors. Those highly sensitive sensory nerves attached to the spine can pick up vibrations. It then transfers the information to the snake’s brain, which processes it as sound.

These receptors pick up stimuli instantly, allowing snakes to have the fast laser reflexes they are known for.

For example, scientists have recorded responses from rapidly adapting mechanoreceptors with high vibrational sensitivity from myelinated afferent fibers that supply black snake skin. The receptors were most sensitive to sine wave stimulation at 150-200 cycles/sec. They responded in a recognized way between 20 and 800 cycles/sec.

Their ability to detect sounds using their body’s vibrations is called somatic hearing. Scientists thought snakes could only hear sounds transmitted from the ground using somatic hearing, which led to the false belief that snakes were deaf because they could not detect airborne vibrations.

That changed in 2012, when biologist Christian Christensen of Aarhus University discovered that snakes could detect airborne vibrations during a to experiment he directed using the royal python as a subject.

How do we know snakes can feel vibrations in the air?

snakes can feel vibrations in the air

Christian started his experiment because he wanted to investigate how snakes hear.

However, he quickly discovered that that was a difficult task. The normal way to conduct an experiment like this is to train the subject to respond a certain way to specific stimuli, but you can’t train a snake. So what the scientists did was attach electrodes to the snake’s head to monitor the activity of neurons from the inner ears to the brain.

They used the electrodes to determine whether the snake’s nerves were sending electrical impulses in response to a sound played by a speaker suspended above the snake’s cage. The scientists noted that frequencies between 80 and 160 hertz produced the most neuronal activity, meaning that the ball pythons could hear lower-pitched sounds better than higher-pitched ones.

For reference, it sounds like the C2 note on a cello. It’s not a common sound in nature.

As part of the experiment, the scientists also attached a sensor to the snake’s skull. The sensor showed that the snake was picking up airborne sounds through vibrations in its skull.

Airborne sound waves are transmitted through the skin and muscle tissue to the quadratus, a small bone that rocks back and forth in response to vibrations.

The movement is then transmitted to the cochlea, which converts it into electrical signals, finally transmitted to the brain.

Learn more: Does a snake sleep?

Summary: Can snakes hear?

In conclusion, the fascinating world of snakes continues to unravel its mysteries, and we have discovered that these remarkable creatures do have a way to perceive sound, even without external ears. Their unique auditory system, consisting of internal structures, allows them to sense vibrations and interpret sound waves in their environment. It’s a testament to the incredible adaptations found in nature.

To delve deeper into the intriguing world of snakes and explore more captivating facts, we invite you to read more on the Venomous Snake blog. Uncover the secrets of these enigmatic reptiles and expand your knowledge of the animal kingdom!


Can snakes hear music or human speech?

Snakes can detect sound vibrations, but their auditory perception differs from that of humans. While they may respond to specific frequencies within their hearing range, it is unlikely that they perceive music or human speech in the same way we do.

Do snakes have eardrums?

Snakes lack traditional eardrums, but they possess specialized structures in their internal ears that fulfill similar functions. These structures detect and transmit sound vibrations to the snake’s inner ear.

Can snakes hear footsteps or approaching predators?

Yes, snakes can perceive vibrations caused by footsteps or the movement of approaching predators. Their ability to detect these vibrations through their sensory organs helps them assess potential threats in their environment.

Do all snake species have similar hearing capabilities?

Different snake species may have varying hearing capabilities, including their hearing range and sensitivity to different frequencies. Factors such as habitat, diet, and lifestyle contribute to these variations.

What happend if I scream to the snake?

If you scream at a snake, it may startle or be momentarily disturbed by the sudden loud noise. However, snakes do not have external ears like humans, so they perceive sound differently. Their primary mode of auditory perception is through vibrations rather than traditional hearing. While the snake may react to the vibration caused by the scream, it is unlikely to understand the sound as communication or perceive it in the same way humans do. It is important to note that intentionally disturbing or agitating a snake can be stressful for the animal and should be avoided for their well-being.