Snakes are typically pretty quiet animals. Besides the occasional hissing, snakes are not well known for being too vocal. People can get a little surprised when their pet snake starts making strange noises, because it’s just so unusual for these pets to make sounds.
This leads us to one big question: do snakes sneeze?
Did you know that there are over 3,000 known species of snakes? These range in size from the Barbados threadsnake which is barely as big as a quarter to the green anaconda which can be over 17 ft long and weigh over 150 lbs.
One thing that all species of snakes have in common is that they can sneeze. It might not seem like it at first, but snakes sneezing is one of the most interesting parts about this fascinating animal.
Snakes have some pretty interesting reasons for sneezing. Some of these they share in common with people, but a few of them are exclusive to snakes and other reptiles.
The snakes can also sneeze when they’re not in the best of health and are currently dealing with a cold or a respiratory infection.
Let’s take a closer look at the surprising fact about snakes and see what it means when a snake sneezes.
Do Snakes Sneeze?
The answer to do snakes sneeze is a solid yes and every species of snake is capable of sneezing. One of the things that makes this really interesting is that snakes sneeze for many of the same reasons that people do.
However, this might not be sneezing in the way that you and I think of it. The types of sneezing that a snake does might have similar biological functions to the sneezing that people do, but it’s going to sound a lot different when a snake sneezes.
Sneezing is a biological mechanism that the body uses to clear mucus, dirt, and other blockages from the nasal passages. When people sneeze, it can be a loud noise that draws a lot of attention, but snake sneezes are typically much more quiet.
The sneeze that a snake makes sounds less like achoo and more like the noise you make when pronouncing the letter “H.”
This is because the snake is smaller in size and because it doesn’t have the muscles required to produce complicated sounds by exhaling air the way other animals do.
A big part of this difference comes down to the fact that snakes use their nose differently than people do. Snakes do not smell through their nose, but rather smell through their tongue.
The tongue picks up traces of scent in the air and passes it along to the Jacobson’s organ which is responsible for helping the snake smell. Snakes have smaller noses and that means that their sneezes are going to be quieter and softer sounds.
What Does It Mean When A Snake Sneezes?
There are two big reasons why a snake starts sneezing. As it turns out, snakes also share these reasons with why people start sneezing. It all comes down to clearing blockages from the nasal passageways or as a sign of illness.
There’s a third reason why snakes can start sneezing, but we’ve dedicated an entire section to that further down in the article.
Snakes can get their nasal passages blocked fairly easily. This can be a consequence of slithering around in the sand or maybe they accidentally inhaled while drinking some water. Both of these can be the reason a snake starts sneezing. Another common cause for blockages in the nasal passages of snakes has to do with the production of mucus when snakes get sick.
Snakes can also start sneezing when they become sick. A common illness for snakes is a respiratory infection which leads to the production of mucus that can cause a snake to sneeze.
Respiratory infections are serious health concerns for reptiles like snakes and if your pet snake starts sneezing, you should take it to the vet right away. Sneezing, mucus around the nose, and other signs of infection are clear signs that your snake is currently dealing with a respiratory infection.
Why Do Snakes Sneeze Before Shedding?
It’s also really common to hear your snakes sneeze right before it starts shedding or while it is shedding. This is a perfectly normal response to the molting that a snake goes through throughout the year.
Snakes have to shed their skin several times throughout the year in order to keep growing and stay healthy and sneezing is a normal part of this.
It’s a natural and normal process for a snake to shed its skin and usually doesn’t need any help along the way because natural tricks like sneezing actually help it shed on its own.
Snakes sneeze before they’re shedding it to loosen up the skin around the tip of their snout. This is one of the more difficult areas for a snake to manage while it’s shedding and because it’s one of the least flexible areas of the snake.
Snakes don’t have hands like we do which makes getting out those hard-to-reach places a little bit more challenging than it does for people.
Snakes have a couple tricks for helping them shed their old skin including twisting, rolling, and rubbing up against things in their environments like trees and logs.
When a snake starts sneezing, it helps to loosen up the skin around the nostrils during shedding. If a snake starts sneezing before shedding has started, it’s a sign that it’s getting ready to shed and it is currently loosening up some of the skin around its nose.
Snakes can also sneeze while the shedding process is going on because the snakeskin has gotten stuck or caught around the nostrils.
The answer to do snakes sneeze is a solid yes. Snakeskin sneakers because they have dirt or debris caught in your nasal passages that they need to clear. They can also sneeze because they’ve gotten sick or as a normal and healthy part of the shedding process. The next time you hear your snake making some strange noises, it could just be your snake sneezing.