why do snakes have forked tongues

Why Do Snakes Have Forked Tongues?

Snakes are known for their mysterious and often intimidating nature, and a particularly noteworthy feature is the presence of their forked tongues. But why do snakes have forked tongues?

Smelling and Tasting the Environment

One of the primary reasons snakes have a forked tongue is to help them smell and taste their environment. Not only do they flick the tongue in and out to collect particles, but they also use the two fork-like ends of the tongue to send smell and taste signals to two sensory organs located on the roof of their mouth. By doing this, snakes are able to pick up particles in their environment and read them like a smell and taste map.

Hunt for Prey

Another reason why snakes have forked tongues is to more accurately identify their prey. This is especially important for newer, younger snakes as they may not have developed the skills to accurately read their smell and taste maps. By using their forked tongues, they can quickly and accurately track where their potential prey is located, improving their chances of a successful hunt and meal.

Additional Benefits

In addition to helping snakes track prey and collect smell and taste signals, the forked tongue has also been seen as an additional evolutionary advantage. Many believe that when a snake flicks its tongue the forked end directs air particles towards its nostrils, giving it a better chance of identifying potential threats in its environment.


Snakes have forked tongues for a variety of useful purposes. These include scenting and tasting the environment, accurately identifying prey, and detecting potential threats. All of these uses combine to give snakes an incredible advantage and help them to survive.

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