Volume 18: pp. 095-120

Snakes: Slithering from Sensory Physiology to Cognition

Zoran Tadić

Department of Biology – University of Zagreb

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Snakes (Serpentes) are scaly, limbless reptiles that share the same taxonomic order (Squamata) with lizards (Sauria) and amphisbaenians (Amphisbaenia). All snakes have an elongated body and are predatory carnivores. This body shape and their feeding modality have a pervasive effect on many aspects of their biology, such as ecology, physiology, and behavior. Snakes inhabit all biogeographic realms except the polar regions and some islands. Within each of these realms they have filled various aquatic, terrestrial, and arboreal niches. In this review, I describe the sensory physiology of snakes and its peculiarities related to their specific way of life. In the final paragraph, I try to summarize the cognitive abilities of snakes and suggest future approaches to further investigate snake cognition and to link it to underlying physiological processes.

Keywords: snakes, physiology, behavior, cognition

Author Note: Zoran Tadić, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Zoran Tadić at ztadic@biol.pmf.hr.