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Why do snakes stick their tongues out?

Snakes stick out their tongues not because they have bad manners but because it's their way to collect data for the Jacobson's Organ, an organ strategically located in front of the roof of the snake's mouth that functions as a chemical receptor.

By flicking out its forked tongue, a snake captures chemical particles in the air and then inserts the tips of the forked tongue into the two awaiting openings of the Jacobson's organ where the particles, especially those of animal body odors, are identified, analyzed, and acted upon. This comes in handy for tracking prey (especially at night), following the trail of a mate, or finding the way to a den where other snakes are gathering for the winter.

The tongue is also a sensual organ for the male snakes. It plays a vital role in snake courtship and reproduction, as the male snake's jerking body motions and rapidly flicking tongue either charm the female snake, or render her unresponsive. In either instance, by sticking out their tongues, snakes ensure the survival of the species.


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