Here’s What You Have to Know About the Snake’s Smell

Hibernating snakes, according to one of the many snake myths, have a strong odor. In reality, the majority of credible sources refute this claim, as most humans believe snakes are odorless. With a few exceptions, human noses do not always detect odors in snake dens. Moreover, certain snakes track conspecifics using their forked tongues and vomeronasal sense. 

Read on to learn and discover everything you need to know about the snake’s smell.

Knowing The Snake's “Smell”

Snakes with little or no odor are clean. They, unlike mammals and birds, do not have hair, feathers, or dander and shed their skin in a punctuated, periodic fashion. Because snakes live on their bellies, they must occasionally crawl through foul-smelling substances. Captive snakes may crawl through feces or moldy substrates, giving them an unpleasant odor, whereas wild snakes

Repulsing the Predator 

Two pouchlike glands are located at the base of each snake's tail. Snakes use these glands to store musk. Snakes release musk when threatened by predators, which often repels them. Some species use musk to defend themselves, while others can spray it from long distances, up to several feet. When snakes exhale musk, they frequently urinate or vomit, which intensifies the odor. 

The Relationship Between Rattlesnakes and Cucumbers 

Rattlesnake dens are said to have a distinct cucumber-like odor, according to herpetologist Laurence Monroe Klauber. Some say the dens and snakes smell like cucumbers, while others say they smell skunky. According to Klauber, rattlesnake musk is not particularly pungent, and humans cannot detect rattlesnake dens from afar. A snake den and an odor may occur infrequently as a result of snakes that died during hibernation or those with a reason to release musk in the den. 

Maintaining a Breadcrumb Trail 

A human would never smell their way to a snake den or hibernaculum, but some young rattlesnakes do during their first winter. Timber rattlesnakes, for one, can be found in the northern and eastern United States, where they must travel deep underground to avoid dying from exposure. Such dens are rare and usually occupied by a large number of snakes. 

Adult rattlesnakes emit pheromones on their way to and from their dens. Meanwhile, first-year young rattlesnakes can detect these with their forked tongues and vomeronasal systems.


It may be strange to want to learn more about snakes and their odor, but it always proves to be an interesting topic that humans can discuss about. After all, snakes have been living amongst us for many, many years. To the majority of individuals, snakes are scary and dangerous. On the other hand, there are also many snake lovers, breeders, and responsible owners who treat these reptiles like normal, everyday pets. 

Now that you are more knowledgeable of snakes and their “smell,” you are also able to understand them better. Whether you want to be a future reptile pet owner or are downright seeking to repel snakes from your property, it will always be a better option to learn about snakes before you deal with them. So, dig up more information you can find to help you in certain situations!

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