why do snakes have a forked tongue

Why Do Snakes Have a Forked Tongue?

Snakes are mysterious and fascinating creatures that have some unique features, one of them being a forked tongue. But why do snakes have a forked tongue?

To Help Snakes Smell the Environment

Snakes use their tongue to detect their environment. The forked tongue helps to split scents for the two nostrils to take in. The tongue picks up microscopic particles from the air, which helps the snake identify chemicals when searching for prey, or a mate.

The Function of Jacobson’s Organ

The forked tongue helps snakes pick up microscopic particles that pass from both nostrils to the Jacobson’s Organ. This organ, also known as the vomeronasal organ, is a chemosensory organ located inside the snakes mouth. The organ interprets the chemicals, giving the snake the information it needs to find prey, a mate, or the safest way to escape.

Adapted To Help With Eating Prey

The forked tongue also helps a snake find food. When a snake goes to eat, its tongue will flicker in and out and when it detects something, a message is sent to the brain to begin the feeding process. Snakes are able to tell the difference between toxic and non-toxic prey with their forked tongue.

Adapted For Defense

Lastly, a forked tongue can be used for defense. When threatened, the forked tongue may be used to pick up the signals of predators, allowing the snake to identify the threat and escape quickly.


In conclusion, the forked tongue of a snake helps it to smell, find food, and protect itself from predators. It is a unique adaptation for survival that has been used by snakes for thousands of years!

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