The Odour In The Slither: A Dead Giveaway.
Smell is a characteristic every existing entity possesses. Sometimes, it could be a pungent, revolting odour and other times, it is a mind soothing fragrance. But then, what sort of smell would we expect a snake to give away?
"A snake is close by", my uncle had said shortly after we had walked past a thick bushy area at a very late hour. "A matured, adult snake at that, it's Smell is strong", he added. I had just enough time to realise what he was talking about. The smell hit me without warning. A kind of strong, sulphuric odour with a slight touch of putrefaction. I soon hastened my pace and urged my uncle to do so to, not out of fear that a huge, venomous snake might be nearby rearing to strike but because the smell that now confronted my olfactory organ was overwhelmingly traumatic.
Soon, I felt some relief when we eventually came to a clear path properly lit by street lamps, all road edges were visibly clear. But the relief I felt was soon to be extinguished by a nagging thought I kept having about what my uncle had said. My curiosity moved me to put a call across to a friend of mine who was a professional snake handler and a staff of the esteemed Jos Wildlife Park ( a government established tourist site to protect wild animals) in Plateau State. "Yeah, snakes smell. They usually produce certain odours mostly at times to scare away potential threats or sometimes to attract a mate.", he had said over the phone.
Alas, it was true indeed and my curiosity had been satiated. This pungent odour may be unrecognisable to the untrained nose and been what it is, you may be oblivious of the situation and soon come to step on a poised mamba. However, a question remains to be asked, how do they produce this smell? Cloacal Glands was the answer. Snakes of both genders are equipped with cloacal
glands that are situated on their tails' foundations. These glands flank their vents, or their excretory openings. Their cloacal glands manufacture disagreeable smelling substances that snakes emit when they feel bothered or frightened by others. Not only do agitated snakes
often let off these icky odours, they also sometimes let go of their viscous intestinal matter. Snakes sometimes toss their bodies
around in the stuff. If they're in the clutches of an enemy, they often rub it onto them, too. Snakes are sometimes irritated when people try to touch or hold them, and as a result frequently emit defensive odours in those situations.