How Far Can Snakes Smell? Can They Smell Your Other Pets?

Snakes are predators with poor eyesight, which means they have to rely on their other senses to find and hunt their prey. The main way snakes hunt is using their amazing sense of smell, and this begs the question; how far can they actually smell?

So, how far can snakes smell? Snakes can smell prey up to 2 miles away, according to some reports., although more scientific studies are needed on the topic. Snakes have a very strong sense of smell which they use to hunt down hidden prey like rodents in the wild.

In this article, we are going to discuss what makes snakes’ sense of smell so strong, what they can smell, and what they can’t, so keep reading as I try to answer all your questions.

How do snakes smell?

snake hunting to show how far can snakes smell

Snakes can smell better than most animals, in part because of their poor hearing and vision. Something has to compensate for these poor senses, so the sense of smell comes to their rescue.

The Jacobsons are a specialized organic on the roof of the mouth of a snake that are used to detect air molecules in the way that noses work. That’s why snakes flick their tongues, it’s not to lick the air, it’s to push these air particles to these organs.

Snakes still have regular noses and they use these for smelling as well, but their unique setup is what allows them to have this exceptional sense of smell. They have noses within noses, kind of.

How strong is the sense of smell of snakes?

A snake’s sense of smell is so acute that it can detect a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool and locate the animal from which it came.

Snakes have been known to sniff out animals miles away or buried under many feet of sand, even after time has passed.

Research on how far snakes can smell is ongoing, but it is clear that their sense of smell is incredibly sensitive and plays a large role in how they hunt and survive.

Can snakes smell other pets?

Many people wonder if snakes can smell other pets in the house. The answer to probably yes, it is very likely that snakes can smell other animals living in the house. This is because snakes use their sense of smell to locate prey, and animals living in the house would be considered potential prey for a snake.

However, if a snake has a feeding routine and knows its boundaries and habitat pretty well, a snake could be uninterested in the other pets in your house as it knows they are not on the menu.

Still, if you have a pet that lives in your house, it is best to keep them away from any areas where there may be snakes, as you never truly know what your snake is going to be thinking.

We also know that sometimes snakes can escape their enclosure and end up attacking the animals of the owner’s neighbors (or even their kids), so it stands to reason if snakes can smell prey a few houses away, they can probably smell anything within the house itself.

You can learn more about why some snakes keep trying to escape here.

Can Snakes smell humans?

Snakes can smell humans and can recognize their owners by smell, they can also probably make associations between the smell of certain people and the experience related to this person.

For example, if a certain family member mistreats the snake (whether intentionally or unintentionally), the snake can associate their smell with the feeling of being threatened and can become aggressive the next time this person handles them.


The sense of smell is one of the most important senses for a snake because it helps them to locate their prey and protect themselves from danger.  

It’s no surprise that snakes have an incredible sense of smell, as this has been necessary in order for them to hunt successfully.

This also explains why some people who have to handle snakes are bitten, as the snake can potentially feel threatened by how they smell, especially if this person has handled rodents lately and the smell is still on their hands.

Related Questions

How far away can a ball python smell a mouse?

A ball python can smell a mouse that’s a mile or two away as they have an excellent sense of smell. Bally Pythons in the wild will hunt for rodents dens, go in there, hide, wait for the rodents to come back to consume them, then poop before moving out of the den to find another one.

Can you smell a snake before you see it?

You can not smell a snake before you see it. Snakes do have a musky smell, but it is very weak and you will not smell it unless the animal was on your hands.

If you have a snake in your house, you will not smell it before you see it, and you are most likely only going to know there is a snake in your house when you see it yourself or when your dog or cat senses the snake, and warns you about its presence.

Helpful Resources

Smelling in stereo – the real reason snakes have flicking, forked tongues

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