Having a pet snake can be an exciting adventure. Snakes are amazing creatures, and there are all sorts of species you can enjoy. But, be ready for musk emission. What is it? Why do snakes musk? All these are valid questions to ask as a novice snake owner.
Table of Contents
- What Is Snake Musk?
- What Does Snake Musk Smell Like?
- Is Snake Musk Bad? Venomous?
- Why Does a Snake Emit Musk?
- How Does a Snake Produce Musk?
- Which Snakes Produce Musk? (Frequency Table)
- How Do I Get Rid of Snake Musk Odor?
- Are There Ways to Stop a Snake from Producing Musk?
What Is Snake Musk?
Snakes use musk as a way to deter predators from attacking them. The musk is an oily substance that they emit that smells as awful as possible. No creature would want to come close to the snake when it detects the nasty odor.
In the wild, there are many ways animals deter predators. For instance, some, like hedgehogs, have sharp spines. Any animal that tries to attack them can’t do so because of their prickly outer body.
Snakes are another group of animals that have a way of deterring predator attacks. They release musk, an awful smell that comes out of the cloaca. The musk is a by-product of a snake’s digestive system.
If you want to identify snake musk, look out for a whitish emission with an oily consistency. The smell is so disgusting, which is what the snakes need to keep danger away.
Learning all about snake musk is crucial. It’s also essential to note that some don’t do so frequently, although all snakes musk. Mostly the big snakes tend to musk less than small ones who experience more threats.
The smell of snake musk can be nothing like you’ve ever smelled before. It’s better to clean it up as soon as you notice it. The strong smell can linger and requires strong cleaning products to remove.
What Does Snake Musk Smell Like?
It’s not easy to describe snake musk until you smell it for yourself. But truth be told, it’s not like any other scent you’ve ever come across.
Usually, when a snake is calm and perceives no threat around, it doesn’t have a smell.
Perhaps it might have a small scent because it’s in a small snake enclosure. Otherwise, there are no bad odors. But, the minute there’s danger around, it emits musk.
Imagine how bad rotten eggs smell when cracked open. That’s the same scent you have to endure with snake musk, if not worse.
Is Snake Musk Bad? Venomous?
As awful as snake musk can be, it isn’t venomous. It might make you gag and want to get as far away from your pet snake as possible.
The powerful scent lingers around and takes time to remove from surfaces, even with washing.
Why Does a Snake Emit Musk?
Snake musk is a defense mechanism to deter predators. But, the same can also come in handy when a snake wants to mark its territory.
According to some scientific research, snakes emit musk when they feel disturbed, even in an enclosure. There’s a difference between male and female musk. Plus, female snakes tend to release musk more often than a male.
Since the musk release from the female snake is frequent, there’s reason to believe it’s for different purposes. It’s usually because of sexual dimorphism, the difference in sexual forms between males and females.
It’s a fact that there are many snake species in the world. These emit different musk scents because of the size of the musk emitting glands.
Male scents will defer from females, plus females carrying eggs tend to musk more than males.
A female snake carrying eggs is more vulnerable to predators hence more reason to musk. It’s a defense mechanism that tells predators to stay away.
How Does a Snake Produce Musk?
Snakes have a part on their bodies known as the cloacal. It’s where the snake musk comes out in a whitish or yellowish-brown oily form.
Snake musk comprises various chemicals, and different species share the same composition. Some of the chemicals you can come across on snake musk include
- 3-methylbutanoic acids
These compounds make up the chemicals found in snake musk from numerous species. Some, like pythons and vipers, share similar musk compositions.
Musk production isn’t a new thing, and snakes have been using it as a defense mechanism for centuries.
Which Snakes Produce Musk? (Frequency Table)
All snakes emit musk. But, the only difference among the different species is the frequency. Some species tend to emit musk frequently, while others are infrequent. There’s also a difference in age and how frequently a snake will musk.
For instance, a corn snake will often musk at a young age. The emission becomes infrequent as the snake grows into a mature adult.
Musk production for the young snake is their way to mark their territory since this is a new environment.
On the other hand, ball pythons are infrequent musk producers. It’s rare to find a python that’s fearful of its environment. The sheer size of the snake makes it have few predators, and it can exist comfortably in any environment.
Other smaller snake species like garter emit musk as often as they can. Garters are small snakes that have so many predators. Musk emission is their best way to protect themselves against any attacks since they have small fangs. Therefore, biting an attacker isn’t the best way for the snake to protect itself.
|Snake Species||Musk Emission Frequency|
How Do I Get Rid of Snake Musk Odor?
Snake musk is the worst smell you can come across in your home. When your pet snake emits musk, you want to get rid of it immediately.
Unfortunately, removing snake musk isn’t as simple as waving a magic wand, and the smell will be gone for good.
It tends to linger for some time. Remember, the purpose of the scent is to deter predators in the wild. So, it makes sense that the scent is so strong and not easy to remove.
Still, there are ways you can reduce the strength of the odor over time in your home.
When it comes to cleaning snake musk, soap and water won’t cut it. Heck, even bleach isn’t enough to remove the strong odor. The best that you can do is clean the area on numerous occasions to get rid of the smell.
If the musk is on your clothes, many washes are necessary to reduce the scent strength. The same applies if the musk gets on your body. Frequent cleaning, washing, and bathing can be enough to get rid of the snake musk.
You may also need to pick up some new snake care accessories.
Get Some Lave Soap
When push comes to shove, you might have to get some heavy-duty cleaning products. A good example is Lave soap, which comprises a soft rock known as pumice.
This soft rock is used in the cleaning industry for many reasons.
It’s great when you need to scrape away and absorb difficult to remove substances like grease. Pumice even works for oil, tar, and snake musk. So, when you get a pet snake, it’s better also to buy some Lave soap. It’s made by the same company that produces WD40.
Buy Metal Soap
Another excellent cleaning agent that works on strong odors is metal soap. This is the best soap for fishermen and women that deal with fish smells all day.
Metal soap manufacturers use stainless steel to make it absorb odors. You have to apply it on your hands, body, or clothes with the snake musk. Use it in the same way you use any other type of soap to clean.
It’s better to clean the snake musk than carry the lingering smell with you everywhere. If possible, you can also stop your snake from producing musk.
Are There Ways to Stop a Snake from Producing Musk?
Prevention is better than cure. Well, it’s better to stop your snake from producing musk than clean after the deed is done.
If you want to stop your snake from producing musk, note why this happens. Snake musk is a defense mechanism that feels there’s a threat in your home.
The best way to stop this from happening often is to help your snake feel comfortable.
Try the following ways to keep them calm.
1. Better Snake Handling Skills
Snake handling is a skill you have to learn as a pet owner. Usually, a snake will musk if you don’t handle it properly.
So, take some time to master how to do it the right way. This will reduce the number of times your snake produces musk.
2. Comfortable Enclosure
How is the snake enclosure? Is it a simple glass case with nothing else inside? Often snakes find such an enclosure exposing and feel threatened.
Instead, create nooks and crannies where they can hide and feel safe. Also, ensure the enclosure is the right size depending on the kind of snake.
Check out our guide for more tips on how to build a snake enclosure.
3. Be Understanding
Check how you respond when a snake musks. If you get angry, move it around poorly and throw it down, the snake perceives you as a threat. This will only make the matter worse for you.
Every time the snake senses your presence, it will musk as a defense mechanism.
4. Engage in Frequent Contact
Always stay in contact with your snake. It makes them comfortable around you and reduces musk emission.
Otherwise, if you always reduce contact to once in a while, your snake will perceive you as something dangerous.