Outdoors blog


What is Snake Musk?

Snake musk is used be snakes to protect themselves from predators. It is a foul-smelling liquid secreted by specialized glands in the cloaca of the snakes. It smells like rotten eggs and scares off predators.


Is It Poisonous?

In contrast to snake venom, the musk is not as dangerous. You cannot combine the snake musk with any food because of its foul smell. If you are handling a snake and some musk attach to your hand, it will not cause severe effects.

It is possible to wash off it using different methods. The molecules of this material will bind to the surface of the skin. It is not possible to get rid of it using regular soap. Even when you have washed your hands many times, the chances of getting rid of the smell are low. You can get rid of it using specialized surfactants.

You can use a specialized type of soap is called metal soap to eliminate the bad smell produced by this material. It is used by fishermen to get rid of the fish smell. If your hands contact with snake musk, you can use metal soap to eliminate the bad smell.

If you do not have a metal soap, it is better to reduce the smell using regular soap. You can make a lot of foam using soap and leave it for a few minutes on your hands. It is the best way to minimize the smell without the use of metal soap.


How Does It work?

There are two phases of working of the snake musk. First, it is crucial to understand when the snake releases it. It is essential to know about the way it repels predators also.



There is a specialized gland for the production of snake musk. Whenever the snake feels a sense of danger, it will ward off predators by releasing some musk. Most of the molecules from this material are produced in the gut of the snake. The snake gets this material as a byproduct of digestion. As the brain receives a signal to release the musk, the neurons will activate the musk gland. It will start producing a white substance. This substance will cover the skin of the snake to create a pungent smell.



There are many uses of this material. If a predator is trying to eat the snake, the musk will protect it because the snake appears to be dying. Most predators will not eat deceased animals as it can cause more harm. According to the research article, most cats will try to avoid food containing snake musk.

The scientists divided some cats into groups as one group was given food with snake musk. The other group got regular cat food. The results were clear that the food with snake musk was not preferred by the cats. Most of the cat food was left alone during the experiment. The snakes also release this material to show their presence. A person will not go to a place where there is a smell of snake musk to avoid confronting a deadly snake.


Which Snakes Have It?

According to scientific statistics, almost every snake is capable of producing musk. The smell of the musk of some snakes is not as severe as others.

As some snakes are not emitting pungent-smelling musk, people think that these snakes do not produce it. Some of them emit highly sticky and smelly musk that is like skunks. As snakes are young, they will produce more musk to protect themselves. The venom production is not enough to get rid of the predators at a young age. Corn snakes release it more frequently when they are younger. As the corn snakes get older, the musk production reduces.

Garter snakes and milk snakes are famous for the production of musk. The pythons do not musk as frequently as small snakes because they have other abilities to get rid of predators. This material is not exclusive to the male snakes as female snakes can also produce musk of equal quantity.

Both male and female snakes have equally sized cloacal glands for the production of smelly material. Water snakes produce one of the smelliest musks because most of their diet consists of fish. They use the molecules from the fish smell to produce potent musk with a high level of bad smell.



Snake Musk vs Pee or Poop?

Most of the snakes only have one opening for excretion. The reptiles do not produce urine as excretory material. Snakes are some of the most famous reptiles. They will excrete uric acid and dry it in their gut as the fecal material approaches the excretory opening. Both materials come out as slimy substances.

The snake musk is a part of the snake excretory material. When we are talking about the snake musk only, it is different than the snake poop. The poop is made using leftovers of what snakes eat. The snake secretes musk in case of danger. It may take many days to months for the excretory material to reach the cloaca. Snakes can produce musk when it has not eaten anything.

Snake poop excretion is non-frequent because the snakes are not eating regularly. The poop may contain some snake musk in some cases. There is a pattern in snake musk creation because the snakes can control it as the danger approaches.

Musk is very smelly for purpose of self defense.