National Geographic News: Snake Wranglers

National Geographic News:  Gaboon Viper
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Why do snakes stick out their tongues?

For one thing, so they can tell prey from predator. The tongue actually works more like a human nose. The snake sticks out its tongue to pick up scent particles. When the snake returns its tongue back into its mouth, the two forked tips deposit the molecules into ducts where they pass into the "Jacobson's Organ." The Jacobson's Organ then processes the scents, in this case, determining whether they're from a delicious meal or a deadly intruder.

Bad-Rap Rattlesnakes
Premieres Wednesday, February 12, 2003 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel
Herpetologist Jeszs Rivas travels through the United States to get hands-on experience with some of our most venomous snakes, including copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes.

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—Photograph copyright Joe McDonald/CORBIS
 
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