Do snake have ears or not? Snakes, also called serpents, are limbless, carnivorous creatures belonging to the classification of lizards. Their bodies are full of overlapping scales, elongated with head and tail. They hunt prey mostly with their sense of smell; however, they also use sight and sound.
1. History of Snakes
There’s a theory that snakes were related to a marine reptile called Mosasaurs. According to this, snakes’ translucent eyelids are considered to have developed to counteract marine conditions, and there was a loss of external ears due to disuse in an aquatic environment. This resulted in an animal that is comparable to today’s sea snakes. Though, snakes later repopulated the land in the late Cretaceous period and continued to evolve into today’s snakes.
Snakes are believed to have evolved from the early forms of lizards with two legs. This theory is confirmed through the related fossil evidence that was found. Snakes with retentive hind limbs first appear in the fossil records during the Cretaceous period.
2. Bodies of Snakes
Several species of snakes have skulls with multiple joints, unlike their lizard ancestors. This allows them to swallow prey larger than their heads with their extremely mobile jaws. Additionally, snakes’ paired organs such as kidneys are one before the opposite rather than facet by facet to accommodate their slim bodies. However, most snakes have just one purposeful respiratory organ. Moreover, unlike lizards, most snakes do not have eyelids and external ears. (See Why Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?)
3. Snake Ears
If you are still wondering whether snake have ears or not, in skull and structure, they don’t have ears. To be more specific, they are devoid of eardrums & external ears which is why they don’t respond to sound the same way as other animals and human beings.
4. Snake Hearing Experiment
To know whether snakes have ears or not, there was an experiment conducted to find the auditory proof for the same. Each time a sound was played through a speaker suspended on top of the snake’s cage, the researchers measured whether or not the nerve relayed an electrical pulse.
The nerve pulses with frequencies between eighty and one hundred sixty hertz were the strongest, roughly the same as the lowest notes of a cello. These are however, not sounds that snakes experience frequently in the wild. Thus, it was concluded that snakes are able to hear low frequencies rather than high frequencies. (See How Do Snake Fangs Work?)
5. Snakes are Not Deaf
Snakes can and cannot be considered deaf given the definition that follows. Humans have tiny ear bones inside that are critical for the hearing process. In the same way, snakes have similar structures that are connected through the sides of their head to the jawbones. The skin and muscle transfers airborne sound waves to the tiny bones called quadrate, which move back and forth in response to the vibration. The movement is subsequently sent to the cochlea, which converts it into electrical signals and transmits it to the brain.
However, it was deduced that snakes are much better at sensing ground-borne vibrations than air-borne sounds. But the ability to sense both the sounds help snakes cover a larger field of sound. Hence, there is no evidence that snake have ears but it is confirmed that they are not deaf.
6. Other Senses of Snakes
Can snakes see or taste? The answer is yes and no respectively. Snakes do have eyes & sight viz they are capable of seeing. But their eyes are mostly used for foraging and defense.
Additionally, their tongue does not have tastebuds. Although, if their preytransmits chemicals to the surface of the tongue or the vomeronasal organ, some taste is produced.
All-in-all snakes rely heavily on smell and touch to find prey and mates even if when snake have ears & eyes. (See How Do Fish Sleep with Their Eyes Open?)