Do Snakes Have Ears?

Let’s be honest; snakes are some of the most unique creatures in the world. The limbless wonders come in all shapes, sizes, and colors – and they have left many of us wondering how they get by without some of the usual features we’re so used to seeing. It leaves us asking one thing: do snakes have ears?

Ears are usually made of three parts

Before finding out if snakes have ears or not, it’s best to understand how ears work. They usually come in three main parts: the inner, middle, and outer parts. The outer part of the ear are the parts we see and have been designed to capture as many sounds as possible. The middle part of the ear is found behind the eardrum and features three bones that pick up the vibrations in the air and send them to the inner ear. Here, the vibrations are moved on once again as they make their way to the brain, where they are analyzed.

Snakes have one part of typical ears

So, do snakes have ears? Yes and no. No, they don’t have ears as we know them, and yes, they do have some way of hearing. It turns out that snakes have just one of the three typical parts found in ears. A 2012 study proved that snakes don’t have the outer or middle parts of the ear, but they do have the inner part.

They can hear limited noises

Lacking two main parts of the ear means that snakes can only hear limited noises. It’s believed they can only hear low-frequency sounds, but that’s not all. Higher frequency sounds are usually transmitted through the air. This means that snakes often struggle to hear noises that are transmitted and instead do better with vibrations, such as noises through the floor.

Snakes don’t communicate with sound

One of the many reasons that snakes don’t have very good hearing is because they don’t hunt or communicate with sound. Instead, they rely on their other senses. The strangest part? Even when snakes do make noises such as hissing or rattling, it’s a frequency they can’t hear as it’s too high. That’s right; a snake can’t hear itself when it’s trying to warn others away.

They have other heightened senses

Having a lack of hearing doesn’t mean that snakes have no senses. In fact, their other senses are even better to make up for the lack of every part of an ear. For one, their sense of smell is highly impressive as they use their tongue to taste scent particles in the air before a special organ analyzes what they mean and if there is some food around.

So, do snakes have ears? Kind of. While they might not have the typical ears we think about, they do have a way to hear limited noises. Thankfully, the lack of hearing doesn’t mean they can’t sense things around them as their other senses more than make up for the fact they don’t have ears like other animals.