What Sound Do Snakes Make?

February 15, 2024

The slithery reptiles that are best known for their hisses and rattles make plenty of other sounds, too. Among them are growling, buzzing, and rattling, all of which serve as warnings to predators and prey. These noises can also be used to communicate with other snakes of the same species or to find a mate.

The first snake sound we’ll look at is hissing, which makes a sound that is similar to the sibilance you might hear when someone blows their nose. Hissing is done by placing the tongue between the upper and lower teeth and forcing air through it. It’s the same process that humans use when they make a ‘hush’ sound during conversation.

A snake that is agitated or scared will usually hiss, which can help it seem less intimidating and scare off potential predators. This is especially important for non-venomous snakes that can’t physically defend themselves.

Some snakes can produce a sound that is much like a rasp, as if they’re rubbing sandpaper against rough wood. This is usually a warning to predators and can be made by snakes with rough-keeled scales, like Africa and Asia’s saw-scaled vipers.

Another sound snakes can make is a whistle, which is created by pushing air through the cloacal vent in their back end, instead of their mouth and nose. Corn snakes, ball pythons, some vipers, Sonoran coral snakes, and western hook-nosed snakes can all whistle. Other snakes can make a noise that sounds more like a barking dog or a distressed bee than a hiss, which is probably a sign that they’re feeling threatened.

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