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Old 10-30-03, 01:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How smart are snakes?

hey im wondering what you guys think about how smart snakes are. i really don't have enough experience to have a good opinion so im wondering what you guys think. ofcourse im talking about more advanced then noticing their owner, like would they be able to tell me from someone else? also can snakes ''think''?
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Old 10-30-03, 01:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, snakes have a tiny brain which through evolution never needed to develope a larger one because they rely on instinct. Snakes also can t hear and there eye sight is vary poor! The only way a snake could tell you apart from someone else is by smell, yet I believe they can only tell the difference between food and something that is not food.
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Old 10-30-03, 01:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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some apear to be smart...like my 2 corns who used to wrap themselves around each other to escape...on thier own they wernt strong enough to reach the top. But for the most part I'ld say theyon par with a 2watt light bulb
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Old 10-30-03, 02:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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From a biological point of view most reptiles are pretty low on the smart scale. If I remember correctly most reptile families evolved roughly about the same time as the dinosaurs did, far predating mammals and birds. Some, like most crocidillians (sp?) evolved even before the dinosaurs and have remained effectively unchanged for tens of millions of years now.

I think a snake will recognize it's owner more through repetitive contact and smell than anything, they could tell you apart from movement and smell/taste from another human but they don't think "Hey, that's my owner, maybe she'll feed me" I believe there are very few animals besides humans that are actually capable of 'thinking', that is to have an identity of self and problem solving skills. But it's a really hard thing to define. I remember from university Anthropology classes that tool use is a defining factor as to whether something can think or not. But there are insects that could be argued to use tools and many intelligent mammals that have complex communication patterns, (whales, dolphins) that do not.

I think emotions are something that is mostly limited to mammals and even then, we try to humanize animal behaviour and interpret them as emotions because that is what we understand when in reality it is just instinct in almost all instances.

Dogs, for example don't 'love' their owners but associate them as dominant pack members and do many things that seem affectionate that are actually submissive so you know they are not a challenge to your authority.

I agree with T.O. saying that they likely didn't become 'smarter' simply because it wasn't necessary for them to do so. Rats are way smarter than any snake will ever be, yet they are prey items. I like to think that snakes are a lot like sharks. Physically they are basically perfect at what they do, so there is no need to evolve further.

I would be surprised if many of the species we have today are really any different from snakes that existed even several hundred thousand years ago. Considering homo sapiens as a species probably hasn't even passed the 100,000 year mark yet that's pretty impressive.

Anyhow, i'm totally just rambling now so i'll shut up
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Old 10-30-03, 02:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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offer a snake it's usual meal and also a much smaller portion of it's meal (adult rat vs adult mouse, for example). See if a snake knows the difference between big or small. Dogs are 'pertty' smart and they usually can't tell a difference, very few mammals can infact.
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Old 10-30-03, 02:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Like all reptiles, except crocodilians of course, lack what we call the enlarged cerebral hemispheres. This basicaly means not much learning is done. However, learning for survival is an issue with at least snakes and Im sure other herps, such as say Holtzman's testings have proved. Younger snakes are more apt at finding the most successful ways of learning such as finding a way out of a scenario not likely favored. Should read up on his stuff, he can better explain his experiments.
Also, snakes can see better than most people think and is one of the highest senses they use. They can also hear...
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Old 10-30-03, 03:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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To my knowledge snakes can not hear sound waves in the air, which would be hearing. They can feel vibrations on the ground which is there way of detecting sound. If you don t believe me go to your snakes cage and clap your hands infront of it, I bet he won t move. Tap underneath its cage and sure enough it will look around for food!
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Old 10-30-03, 06:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Slannesh - I guess is since crocidillians have lived for tens of millions of years unchanged because they are "Dumb"

That means we as smart, mammals/humans will end up eventually killing everything off because we are "Too Smart"
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Old 10-30-03, 07:10 AM   #9 (permalink)
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My Burmese Python will only allow ME and ME alone to take it out of its cage......once its out it is fine.
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Old 10-30-03, 11:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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They operate on pure driven instinct. IMHO in order to be smart, you must go beyond that and be able to think, organize, and feel (emotions).

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Originally posted by T.O-SK8TER
I believe they can only tell the difference between food and something that is not food.
Nope. We all give of pheremones and stuff, they can tell male from female, person from person, just as any animal can distinguish from smell. They can tell other snakes apart such as mates. They may be very simplistic in their operative, but their senses are relatively highly tuned.
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Old 10-30-03, 11:32 AM   #11 (permalink)
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>remember from university Anthropology classes that tool use is a defining factor as to whether something can think or not

the base now I believe is self awareness. If something can recognize itself in a mirror this I guess demonstrates the ability to "think" about yourself as an individual.
 
Old 10-30-03, 11:46 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I agree with Linds. They go toatally on instinct.
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Old 10-30-03, 12:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Snakes are awsome at what they do (such as escaping). Learning how to use tools or manipilating its enviroment aren't any of them. A snake can learn what's prey and what's friend or foe. It is great at escaping but that's due to it's physical abilities as a contortionist.
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Old 10-30-03, 01:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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'Snakes can hear but this sense is not as well-developed as its other senses. Unlike lizards, snakes don't have external ears or even a middle ear. They only have a small bone (columella) which connects the jaw bone (quadrate bone--coloured orange in diagram) to the inner ear canals. These inner ear canals work superbly as the snake moves in three dimensions. A snake picks up sound through the skin which passes on to this jaw bone. Indications are that it is not true that a snake can only hear sounds when its head is on the ground. Snakes can hear airborne sounds, though probably not as acutely as some other animals. There are also indications that the lung may act as a sound receptor'.
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Old 10-30-03, 02:31 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Snakes can hear airborne sounds, though probably not as acutely as some other animals. FONT]
Yup. Snakes can hear very, very low pitches (I forget the actual volume) regardless of where their head is. There was actually a very interesting documentary on snakes and hearing a few years ago.
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