On the Prowl

Photos by Mark Renz

For this banded water snake and his or her mate (last photo), I was standing neck deep in a DeSoto County creek, trying to hold the camera steady in low lighting. There's a little bit of handshake softenss to the photos, plus I tweaked them a bit (saturation and a Plug-in called Topaz Adjust 5 for added detail).

TONGUE FLICKING - Although we often think we only have 5 senses, there is a sixth sence that goes beyond sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Actually, according to Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine in About.com Guide, animals also possess altered vision and hearing, echolocation, electric and/or magnetic field detection, and supplementary chemical detection senses.

I had a cattle dog named Coonie who would stand in front of different home electrical outlets (110 volt) and slowly lift up each of her legs, one at a time, then gently set them down again. She often exhibited the same behavior around certain saw palmetto trees, which I never could figure out.

Dr. Helmenstine says that in addition to taste and smell most vertebrates use "Jacobson's Organ", which is also called the vomeronsal organ and pit to detect trace quantities of chemicals.

Snakes flick substances into Jacobson's organ with their tongues.