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Can Your Pet Snake Hear You Scream?

Snakes inspect things by flicking their tongue. It’s the way they bring scents from the air into their mouths where a specialized organ interprets the scent. But why did the doorkeeper in “The Mistress”, a short story in The Deadliest Deceptions, flick his tongue at Miriam?

Sticking out your tongue is often a childish gesture, but for the doorkeeper, it was an involuntary gesture as he tried to answer Miriam’s question. She was eager to find the man whom she overheard in an overcrowded restaurant confide to his friend that he was going to kill someone the next day.

“What do you want?” the doorkeeper asked through a mouth stuffed with crooked teeth.

I shrank back as if I’d been struck by the cudgel tucked in his belt.

“What’s the matter, missy? I startle you?”

“I’m looking for someone who was here this afternoon, a man in his 30s, thick black hair precisely parted in the middle, a large, emerald seal ring—”

The doorkeeper flicked his tongue like a cobra.

A film of icy sweat pearled above my upper lip. … “Can you tell me who he is?”

Scientists have known that snakes use their eyes and tongues to gather data about their environment. But Christina N. Zdenek in an article in the February 17, 2023 Scientific American claims that snakes can responds to airborne vibrations. In short, they can hear beyond just sensing ground vibrations. In fact, they can hear people scream!

You are not likely to scream when you read the stories in The Deadliest Deceptions, but I am wondering whether your pet snake would hear you if you did. To participate in this experiment, click here.

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