Snake Tongue Flicking Behavior: Clues to Vomeronasal System Functions

  • Mimi Halpern
  • John L. Kubie


For the past ten years we have been studying the function of the garter snake vomeronasal system. The snake vomeronasal organ is remarkably large and contains more sensory neurons than the snake’s main olfactory apparatus. It appears to detect sexual scents, conspecific scents, and prey odors. These odors are critically important in mating, aggregation,prey trailing, prey attack and prey ingestion (Burghardt & Pruitt, 1975; Halpern & Frumin, 1979; Heller & Halpern, 1983; Kubie & Halpern, 1979; Kubie, Vagvolgyi & Halpern, 1978; Wilde, 1938). The snake vomeronasal organ is situated in a rather odd position for an external chemoreceptor: the walnut-shaped organs sit paramidline above the roof of the mouth and the tiny openings are not directed towards the outside world (or the nasal cavity, as in many vertebrates) but downward towards the roof of the mouth.


Vomeronasal Organ Garter Snake Accessory Olfactory Bulb Estradiol Benzoate Tongue Flick 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mimi Halpern
    • 1
  • John L. Kubie
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology and PhysiologyDownstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA

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