Snakes have unique biology. Even though they possess eyes, these reptiles use their nose to ‘see.’ A typical ball python does not have ears that are visible to the human eye.
Snakes have ears, but humans can’t see them. Ball pythons detect sound by sensing vibrations through their jaw. This sends a message to the ball python’s ear system.
Ball pythons detect their surroundings through vibrations, but there is so much more to learn about their hearing. Snakes can ‘detect’ sounds that are between 80 Hz and 600 Hz.
Are Snakes Deaf or Blind?
Ball pythons do have eyes, but they are small and beady. As a result, snakes are not blind, but they have poor eyesight in the conventional sense.
A ball python will see in monochrome, and just two dimensions. This means, as a survival mechanism, snakes tend to use their tongue to ‘see.’ By licking the air, a snake will be able to sense heat around them and know if somebody or something is close by.
A snake will not rely on their vision alone. They will also need to use other organs to hear. Ball pythons do not have ears on the outside of their body.
However, they have a full hearing canal inside their head. This connects with the jawbone to create a sense of hearing. As a result, ball pythons are not deaf.
What Organ Does a Snake Hear With?
A ball python uses their jawbone to hear. When you notice a snake lying still on the ground, they are not being lazy. In addition to soaking up any heat from the sun or a lamp, they are listening intently.
As the Journal of Experimental Biology explains, a snake detects sound through vibrations that reach the ground. Their jawbone senses these vibrations and passes them along to an internal organ known as the cochlea. The cochlea then sends a message to the brain that it is hearing sounds. The snake will then react accordingly.
Can Snakes Hear as Well as Humans?
Snakes may not be deaf, but they have a considerably more limited hearing range than humans. The average python will be able to detect sounds between 80 and 600 Hz. This may rise to 1,000 Hz in some instances. For comparison, a human can hear as low as 20 Hz, and as high as 2,000 Hz.
However, this does not mean that snakes can only hear sounds that originate on the ground. Loud, airborne noises will reach the ground and create a vibration. This means that snakes hear low-frequency sounds considerably better than higher-frequency noise.
Examples of sounds that a snake will be able to detect include:
|Sound Type||Hz Sound Level That’s Detected by Snakes|
|Thunder:||About 100 Hz|
|Adult Male Voice:||About 260 Hz|
|Snare Drum:||Between 150 and 500 Hz|
|Piano:||The C4 key on a piano at 262 Hz.|
You can experiment a little with sound to see what your ball python seems to pick up. Overall, the golden rule is that lower sounds are more likely to get a response.
Are Ball Pythons Sensitive to Sound?
We have established what a ball python can hear. What we do not know is what they like to hear.
The truth is, constant, low and rumbling sounds will cause stress for your snake. Remember, they detect noises through vibrations. Playing the drum close to your python’s terrarium will cause constant shaking. Naturally, this will not be comfortable.
Do not home your ball python in a noisy room, as this will cause stress to your snake. This can be detrimental to their health in the longer term.
How Do I Know if My Ball Python is Stressed?
There are three primary signs that a snake is stressed or uncomfortable in their surroundings.
- They are active during the day. Ball pythons are a nocturnal species. They prefer to find a dark corner of their terrarium and sleep during daylight hours. If your snake is very active during the day, they are struggling to relax and settle. This may be because their environment is too noisy.
- They hide their head while you handle them. This is a sign that your snake is afraid of you. This may be because they are unfamiliar with the noise that you’re making. Do not force the issue, as you’ll cause further stress. Leave them alone and allow them to adapt.
- They hiss or rear up to strike when you approach their terrarium. Like all animals, a snake that feels threatened will act in self-defense. If your ball python is stressed, they may attempt to frighten you away by hissing and with their physical presence.
- They are refusing to eat. Ball pythons have a complicated relationship with food. They may not be eating because they are stressed. However, they also sometimes go months without feeding because they are not in the mood. If your snake is losing weight, take them to a vet. If not, keep an eye on the situation.
Don’t panic if you cannot often see your ball python. This species is at their happiest while hiding and camouflaged, so they will not necessarily seek your company. Just be vigilant about looking out for signs of stress, and react accordingly if you notice them.
Will a Ball Pythons Attack Me if They Hear Sound?
As intimated above, ball pythons are capable of aggression if afraid. Avoid handling your snake while there is substantial low-frequency background noise, especially if they are new.
If your ball python attempts to attack you every time they hear you coming, they are stressed. Ensure their terrarium is heated to an appropriate temperature, and they are being fed sufficiently. If the behavior continues, see a vet. A ball python is not venomous, but nobody wants their pet snake to feel uncomfortable and afraid.
Can Ball Pythons Hear Me Talk?
As suggested elsewhere in this article, it depends mostly on the pitch of your voice. A deep, booming and bass-laden male voice will probably be audible to a snake. A child’s voice, which is delivered at a higher pitch, may pass your ball python by. Experiment with different tones of voice and see what appears to make your pet most comfortable.
In addition to hearing, a ball python will respond to their name. However, there is no evidence to suggest that snakes understand language or bond with their owners. If your snake appears when you call their name, they may just be startled by vibrations.
While a dog or cat may seek out human affection, survival instincts drive a ball python. Their concerns will revolve around warmth, food, and water. There is a reason why humans describe these primitive instincts as the ‘reptile brain’!
Can Ball Pythons Hear Music?
As we have discussed, a ball python will be able to detect certain types of music. Playing music out loudly on a speaker will cause vibrations, and your snake will register these. Music that revolves heavily around high-frequency bass sounds, such as hip-hop, will have a particular impact.
Your snake will not understand that you are listening to music for pleasure in such a scenario. They will feel a substantial amount of tremors on the ground of their terrarium. Listen to music using headphones around your python to avoid causing them any undue stress.
Can Ball Pythons Hear Bells?
It is crucial to make a ball python’s habitat interesting. You may wish to include some logs for stimulation while your snake explores, but bells are best avoided.
In many cases, these bells will be too high-pitched to create a ground vibration. This means that your ball python won’t hear them, and they’ll be in the way.
If they do hear a bell, it could spook your ball python. Snakes are skittish and easily frightened. Ranchers and farmers in Australia tie bells to their cattle and pets to scare off predatory snakes.
If you want to include logs in your snake’s habitat, stick with things to climb and places to hide. These will appeal to a ball python’s instincts in a way that sound does not.
Snakes have a unique way of hearing, but it is not their primary sense. As a result, noise should be approached with caution where your pet python is concerned.
Try to keep your snake’s terrarium in a quiet part of the house, away from stereos and televisions. This will help the reptile feel safe and secure, and prevent aggression and escape attempts.
Also, never assume that your ball python can hear you walking or talking. This is not always the case, and you may end up startling them.