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Can Snakes Cry? [Are Snakes Able To Shed Tears?]

Snakes are exciting reptiles that have their own unique set of traits and behaviors, so you might be wondering whether or not they can cry or not. I did some research: here is what I found.

So, can snakes cry? Snakes do not cry; they do not have the anatomy to do so. Snakes do not have tear ducts like humans and other mammals, and they also have transparent scales called spectacles over their eyes. Both of which means they are unable to shed tears.

Let us now take a closer look at the subject so that you can understand precisely why snakes cannot nor do not cry. 

Do Snakes Cry?

Snakes are physically not able to cry, nor would they turn to this as a form of expression. 

Crying is not a way to demonstrate that they are in pain or trying to express or show their emotion. 

This is true for all species of snake.

publication by the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine even states that snakes (and other reptiles) exhibit only ‘basic emotions’.

Outside of minor examples of fear, aggression, pleasure, and possibly love (more so in lizards and tortoises), reptiles do not follow humans’ emotional patterns and other mammals.

For this reason, it is essential to note that a snake would not cry in the way in which we would, even if they could. 

It would not be serving the same purpose.

But back to our original statement that snakes cannot cry. Why is this exactly?

Snakes cannot cry due to their anatomy. Their eyes, and the structure of them, prevent tears from being expelled.

Of course, snakes have two eyes, but they do not have eyelids or tear-ducts. Instead, they have what is known as a spectacle

This is a transparent scale that is part of the skin, which goes over and protects each of the eyes.

The spectacle is renewed each time a snake shed its skin; so it is a constant barrier over the eye and is present at all times.

As the spectacles are attached to the skin, tears cannot flow out from a snake’s eyelids like they do in humans/mammals.

This is why snakes do not cry; the spectacle prevents secretions from happening.

Do Snakes Make Crying Noises?

If snakes physically cannot shed tears, then naturally, you may be wondering if they ‘cry in their unique way’. 

While this may be unfamiliar to us, do snakes have their own ‘version’ of crying?

Noises would be a clear indicator, but many snake owners report that snakes do not make any noise, indicating they are crying.

Taking it one step further, Bruce Young, Ph.D., of the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, has dedicated his career to understanding reptiles, specifically snake noises. 

His research suggests that snakes make three prominent noises. They growl, shriek, and quite amusingly – fart.

When a snake anticipates discomfort, it will hiss and make specific body movements. 

This includes flinching, flailing, coiling, and arching of their body. These are known as ‘pain guarding’ behaviors and are used to help position themselves away from a source of danger.

Whether or not snakes can feel pain is the subject of debate among the reptile community. 

While most pet snake owners believe that snakes do not feel pain as severely or in the same way as we do, several biological scientists have documented how snakes do have nerve endings.

Whether or not a snake experiences pain, or is reacting mechanically to pain stimulus, is a question of much debate.

Observing the behavior of snakes only fuels the discrepancy in our understanding. A snake sitting on a hot bulb may stay there dormant, burning itself. They do not always flinch and flail like they are known to do.

It could be that a snake lacks the intelligence to recognize dangerous actions. 

Therefore, they will not react instinctively and pull away from a source of pain (like in our hot bulb example).

In Summary

Snakes cannot, nor do not cry. 

It’s not in their nature to do so.

Snakes are relatively primitive when it comes to their emotions and how they interact with their environment and with any potential owner. 

When a snake does exhibit emotion (rare), it is primarily centered around those required for survival (like aggression).

It’s important to remember that if you take on a snake as a pet, you’ll be looking after it in many different ways than you would another animal/reptile. 

They have their own unique set of needs and requirements, and the relationship you have with them will ultimately need to be tailored.

Here are some other interesting guides on snakes you may be interested in: