How do Snakes Drink Water?
Snakes are members of the reptile family and, like other reptiles, are cold-blooded and dependent on their environment for digestion and hydration. But how do snakes drink water, considering they don’t have a mouth like mammals and birds?
Snakes can absorb water through their skin by a process called capillary action. This works in much the same way as when you use a sponge to clean a counter top. As the sponge absorbs the water, capillary action draws the liquid up the sides of the sponge, allowing the water to reach areas that wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.
External Anatomy Adaptations
In addition to capillary action snakes also have developed external anatomy adaptations to help them drink.
- Tongue: Snakes use their tongues to bring water into their mouths.
- Lips: The lips of snakes are specially adapted, allowing them to drink without taking in large amounts of water or sand while they slither.
- Adaptations in the Roof of the Mouth: Snakes have adapted their oral pouch, reducing its size so when their mouth is closed, the water is trapped.
Buccal Pump Mechanism
Once the water is trapped in the snakes mouth it is then drawn further into the snake’s body using a process known as the buccal pump mechanism. This process is much like the one we use when sucking through a straw. The muscles of the roof of the mouth act like a piston, pumping the water down into the esophagus.
Snakes are truly an amazing creature and they require special adaptations in order to survive and thrive in their environment. They adapted to their environment by developing an unique way to drink, which involves the specialized use of their tongue, lips, and roof of the mouth. The buccal pump mechanism then allows the snake to draw water from their mouth and into their body.