Why Do Snakes Yawn?

If a person is yawning, it more than often connotes that they are sleepy. Have you ever wondered Why Do Snakes Yawn? Well, when a snake yawns, it is not indicating that the animal is about to sleep.

Snakes create yawning gestures for opposite reasons. But being weary isn’t one of the reasons you could observe your snake spreading its jaws wide in the shape of a yawn. It is more or less a habit than anything else to yawn for snakes.

What is a Yawn?

A yawn is an automatic response in which the mouth widens and the lungs inhale a large amount of air. The air is then slowly expelled. The eardrums expand during this period, and the eyes may also shut tightly, causing them to moisten.

A yawn does not need any thinking or activity, and the process is the same for everyone. Yawning frequently happens before or after sleep, which is why it is typically seen as an indication of exhaustion.

snake in water

Yawning is also common in those who are doing something monotonous or tedious. Yawning has a social component as well.

Yawning appears to be infectious in humans and other animals, and while the contagiousness of a yawn has been thoroughly reported, it is still not fully understood.

Although yawning is frequently associated with tiredness or boredom, this is not always the case. While someone who yawns may be weary, yawning causes the heart rate to increase swiftly.

Your pulse rate has increased, which implies that yawning is a sign of alertness rather than sluggishness.

Why Do Snakes Yawn?

One of the primary reasons snakes ‘yawn’ is to be ready for a big meal, especially when the prey is bigger than their head! Snakes spread their jaws incredibly—some may say _impossibly —wide when they yawn.

snakes yawn-sleepy snake

Snakes’ jaws do not unhinge, contrary to common perception. Instead, their lower jaw isn’t joined by bone in the first place, and it’s not even in one piece—split it’s in half and connected by ligaments, enabling one side to move independently of the other.

This allows the snake to gradually incorporate its meal into its body, with the complete digesting process lasting up to several weeks!

To Pick Chemical Cues

There are additional causes for snake yawning, or “mouth gaping,” as I like to call it. A more recently found explanation for mouth gaping is that it helps them pick up chemical cues from their surroundings like many animals in the animal realm.

The vomeronasal organ, commonly known as “Jacobson’s Organ,” is located on the roof of the snake’s mouth. The tongue of a snake opens its mouth wide and flicks its tongue in, and outcomes into touch with the aperture of this organ after the tongue has been retracted.

As a result, the snake is able to detect and comprehend these environmental cues. The well-known snake tongue flicking is really the snake acquiring odors from the air and relaying them to the vomeronasal organ.

The snake will be able to tell what kind of prey is around after the scent has been processed.

It could be because of a disease.

Unfortunately, excessive yawning can be an indication of sickness and should be taken seriously. Because of their food, snakes are susceptible to a wide range of bacterial and fungal illnesses.

Ingesting a mouse or rat with host larvae, for example, may result in parasites spreading through the snake’s tissues, causing illness.

It is always preferable to visit your veterinarian if your pet snake looks unwell, as disease-causing organisms can present symptoms similar to those of other, unrelated disorders.

It’s never a good idea to second-guess what’s making your pet ill. Tests must be performed, and drugs must be dosed according to the snake’s body weight.

When Snakes Are Tired, Do They Yawn?

Despite the fact that tiredness isn’t one of the causes stated above, some people nevertheless question if snakes ever yawn.

python snake yawning

Humans yawn due to temperature differences, according to research published in Physiology & Behavior. People yawn more during the hot months, for example, because yawning enables the body to cool down. When the lungs take in the chilly air, something happens.

This remark leads to the conclusion that snakes can yawn to provide cold air to their bodies. Even though snakes are cold-blooded creatures, they can get rather heated. Regardless, there is no scientific evidence that snakes yawn when they are fatigued.

When Snakes Are Hungry, Do They Yawn?

Snakes, as we all know, do not chew or shred food into little bits. Rather than chewing their food, they gulp it whole! Snakes, in fact, can swallow prey that is much larger than they are!

A snake’s jaws, unlike ours, are not joined and are instead ‘attached’ by elastic ligaments that allow the snake to extend its mouth and jaws wide open to swallow almost impossible-sized food!

Before swallowing a meal, a snake may “yawn” or use this mouth-gaping method to loosen up and stretch out these ligaments. A snake that “yawns” may indicate that it is hungry and needs to be fed.

Is Yawning By A Snake Considered Normal?

Snakes “yawn” or “mouth gape” for a variety of causes. The majority of snake “yawning” happens as a result of the following circumstances:

  • Preparing for dinner by yawning
  • Following a meal, yawning
  • Yawning to detect chemical signals
  • As a result of an illness, you may find them yawning.

What Causes Snakes To Yawn After Consuming Food?

In contrast to employing a “yawn” to prepare for a meal, snakes can utilize mouth-gaping to stretch out and readjust their jaws in their natural, comfortable posture after having a meal.

Can Yawning Be A Symptom Of Mouth Rot Or A Sign Of Anything Else?

Another frequent bacterial illness in reptiles is mouth rot, often known as infectious stomatitis. Bacteria may enter the body through a minor incision or wound and spread throughout it.

tired snake

This is frequently found in the mouth and gums. Excessive “yawning,” as well as repetitive rubbing or scratching of the snake’s mouth on things in the cage such as hides, water bowls, and decorations, might be signs of mouth rot.

Why is my snake yawning so much?

The worst-case scenario is that your snake is yawning because it is unwell, especially if you see it yawning excessively. Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, infectious stomatitis, or mouth rot, are prevalent.

Bacteria in the lungs cause respiratory tract infections (RTI). A snake that breathes with its jaws open wide is one of the indications.

Insufficient or improper environmental conditions most commonly cause respiratory infections: the habitat is too cold, too damp, or the temperature is maintained at a single degree rather than the thermal gradient (or temperature range) that snakes require to stay healthy.

green snake sleeping

Snakes are more susceptible to respiratory infections and the bacterium that causes pneumonia due to cold temperatures, excessive humidity, and inadequate diet.

Improper care, such as an erratic feeding schedule, an unclean cage, or anything that produces a stressful social or physical environment, makes snakes more sensitive to RTI.

Any sickness that affects your snake’s respiratory system will make it more difficult for it to breathe. Your snake is yawning continuously because it is attempting to get air into its lungs.

A bubbling discharge from the nose is frequently associated with respiratory disease. It’s possible that you’ll see a lot of frothy salivae and the snake breathing from its mouth.

What Causes Snakes To Open Their Mouths At Random?

When a snake detects anything, it may open its jaws. Snakes get chemical information about their surroundings by opening their mouths. Snakes primarily obtain sensory information from their surroundings by smell, and they have several scent receptors.

The snake’s nose handles scents delivered by air. Snakes may also detect fragrance through the Jacobson’s Organ, also known as the vomeronasal organ, which is present on the roof of their mouths.

In a mechanism known as “chemoreception,” this organ is intended to detect non-volatile chemical molecules or chemicals that do not flow through the air, allowing snakes to respond to chemical stimuli in the environment. 

The vomeronasal organ of a snake may yawn to expose it to chemical cues about its environment. They “taste” the air by catching fragrance particles with their tongue. The particles are subsequently transported to Jacobson’s Organ by the tongue.

This organ detects chemical scents transported by moisture. If the snake detects an airborne material through its nose, it opens its mouth and flicks its tongue out to catch any comparable aroma carried by wetness.

Snakes have two organs to detect scents, which makes sense given their poor vision and limited (if any) hearing.


Snakes yawning, or more accurately, mouth gaping is one of the prettiest things they do.

When snakes are busy extending and readjusting their jaws, which makes them appear as their alarm has just gone off, it’s difficult to view them as the violent, blood-hungry animals that people portray them to be.

Snakes don’t yawn very often, and catching them doing so is difficult. If your pet snake yawns more than normal or yawns numerous times in a row, it might be an indication that the snake is unwell. It’s critical to take your snake to the veterinarian if you suspect it’s unwell.

If the snake displays no additional symptoms of sickness and merely yawns now and then, consider yourself lucky to have caught them in the act and attempt to photograph them next time! Everyone enjoys a nice photograph of a googly-eyed snake that appears to have just awoken.

If you own a bearded dragon and would like to know if it bites, then check out our article do bearded dragons bite.


Is it bad if my snake yawns?

Prima Facie, a snake yawning, is not bad. It could be a result of various things. However, The bad news is that in snakes, yawning might indicate sickness or disease. Yawning, in particular, might be a sign of a bacterial or fungal illness they picked up from their meal.

Why is my snake opening and closing his mouth?

This is usually an indication of a sick snake. Snakes never breathe via their mouths. Although a respiratory ailment is the most common cause, it can also be caused by gastrointestinal sickness and acute discomfort. The majority of respiratory disorders may be traced back to inadequate animal husbandry.

Is it bad if a snake yawns?

“Yawning” is an indication that your snake is either hungry or getting ready for a meal when it realizes you’re about to feed it — especially if it’s a big one.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!thing.