What Sounds Do Snakes Make?

February 15, 2024

Snakes are often portrayed as silent slithers, but these reptiles actually make lots of different sounds. From warning hisses to spine-tingling rattles, all of these noises have specific purposes. These unique sounds help snakes navigate their environments and even warn predators to keep away.

The most common sound that snakes make is a hiss. This sharp exhale of breath occurs when air is forced through a tube in the snake’s mouth, called the glottis. The glottis is made of cartilage, which vibrates to produce the hissing sound. Snakes can also hiss by shaking their tails, scraping the scales or rattling.

Most snake sounds serve as a defense mechanism. They can be used to warn predators to stay away, as a way to intimidate prey or as a sign of aggression. The hissing sound is a powerful, intimidating signal that many animals recognize as a dangerous threat.

Hissing is also a useful tool for snakes to communicate with other members of their species. They cannot talk, but hissing allows them to communicate with other snakes at a frequency that their predators can’t hear.

In addition to hissing, snakes can also make a clicking noise, similar to the sound of a mouse being crushed by a cat. This is a type of communication that is also used by the Sonoran coral snake and the western hook-nosed snake to warn other snakes of potential danger. Snakes can also wheeze or click when they are preparing to shed. If you notice your pet snake making this sound, it is likely due to an impending shedding cycle and should not be handled.

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