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Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Posted by davidwczerr (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 5, 05 at 21:31

Hello all, I usually don't frequent this site, but a snake encounter earlier today had led me here. My wife and I found a black rat snake (I'm pretty sure) on the sun porch and had to move him out away from the house. He remained amazingly calm during the move and after we placed him on the ground we stayed around to watch him for a few minutes, camera in hand. I noticed that he seemed to yawn once every minute or so - I captured a couple of these moments with the camera (see below). I say it was a yawn because of how he acted when he did it. He would have his head raised up a little bit, toungue flicking, and then he would slowly open his mouth wide, hold it there for just a second and close it. All this while acting fairly calm. BTW, the photos were taken from a range of about 5-6 feet away, the camera has an amazing zoom and takes great photos; I am not a great photographer ;-)

So we were just curious if snakes yawn, and if not then any ideas what this guy (or gal) was doing? Was it supposed to be a scare tactic? Thanks for the help! David
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Image hosted by Photobucket.com


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

You are correct that the snake is a black rat snake. The snake is not in a defensive posture, so I don't think it was trying to scare you. Generally, when snakes open their mouths they way you depict in the photos, the snake is resetting his lower jaw. This usually occurs after the snake has eaten a food item. Snakes can dislocate their lower jaw and the front of the jaw is not joined but has an elastic connective tissue. This allows the snake to eat a food item two to three times the size of its head. I don't see any lump in the snake, so it probably did not just eat. I have seen snakes that I know haven't just eaten open their mouths and appear to reset the jaw. I don't know if you would consider that a yawn, or for some other reason they had to reset their jaw.


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Neato series of pics.


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

I've seen this behavior in a black rat snake once before as well. I went back to check on it the next day and it was dead, for no apparent reason from what I could make of it. Wierd...


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

We have a pet Ball Python and she does that from time to time. We don't think it's a yawn really, but just her stretching.


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Maybe it was bored of having its picture taken :-).


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

What I am curious about is the apparent two light-colored bands quite visible in the first shot about one/third of the way back; and again in the second photo, but then you can only see one light band.
What does everyone make of that?


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Maybe that is a slight bulge from a vole or bird he just ate and is showing the pattern that is normally hidden in adult balck rats. That would explain the yawning.


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Thanks for all the replies, perhaps it was a stretch or an attempt to relax his jaw after a meal - I guess we'll never know for sure. With regards to his bands, there were 4 or 5 that seemed to grow more faint towards his tail end.

We found this guy on Sunday on our porch, and on Monday afternoon we visited the home were are moving to in a few weeks and..........there on the porch was a black rat snake! Larger in size than this guy, I guess he got word we were moving in and wanted to make us feel like we were at home.

David


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

David,

You lucky dog, a black rat at both your old and new house. I found 3 eastern garters in my back yard last summer, which was our first in this house. Haven't seen them yet this summer, I'm getting discouraged.

Warren,

The white bands are part of the black rat's pattern. Some show up almost as clearly as a king snake while others are so faint you have to inspect the scales closely to see it.

Evan


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

I can see a lump in the snake, which means it had just eaten something, a rodent perhaps. Snakes dislocate their jaws when they swallow food items, so this is how they "re-set" their jaws-by "Yawning". But, yes, snakes DO sometimes yawn for the same reasons we do, though a real yawn lasts several seconds.

Sharon McKenzie


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Ok David first of all i have three snakes and i was wondering the same dang thang until i checked out another website and snakes do yawn just to reset their lower jaw after eating a rodent or something:]


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RE: Do snakes yawn? (w/ pics)

Aww, shucks, David! Thet thar snake was just measurin' ya up to see if'n ya'd fit in his mouth!
Rusty Jones


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