Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Short: Thinking in particular of a Royal Python (US: Ball Python) such as some people keep as exotic companion animals, what sorts of "emotions" or "feelings" are they capable of?

Long: says that

scientific studies show that snakes just don't have the cerebral capacity for [emotions like joy, anger, and affection] but do have "primitive" feelings like aggression, fear, and pleasure

Based on the parts of the human brain where we develop emotions, and on the more primitive brain in a snake, this makes sense, but beyond being able to tell whether it's feeling the primitives such as "fear" or "safety", what "emotions" or "feelings" can we realistically ascribe to a snake?

share|improve this question
Interesting thought. I'd recommend diving into google scholar. – James Feb 7 '15 at 15:03

While it's widely believed snakes have primitive emotions such as fear, anger, and, to a lesser degree, pleasure, no one is sure beyond that. Many snake enthusiasts would argue that snakes show more emotion than widely accepted, with studies showing snakes (along with other reptiles) have personalities, though less complex than humans, making it possible for snakes to have more emotions then currently accepted.

share|improve this answer

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

any source on these thoughts? – aaaaaa Aug 11 '15 at 2:52

The answer to your question is yes. They can feel very primitive and simple emotions like anger or fear. However, their brain is NOT as developed as our's, hence, they don't feel more advanced emotions like Love, etc.

When we talk of any snake returning to us, it has a choice of running off but studies have shown that it likes our warmth and hence returns to us. However, this is debatable.

Cats and snakes

See how they made friends. The snake has decided not to attack the cat. But, we never know what could happen. Example, if the cat steps on it, the snake could bite the cat.

Check this link out for more information.

Check this video out. It talks about how snakes move around their master. So we can't really say. We must wait for studies to show more accurate results.

share|improve this answer
Interesting, but my question was not "Can they...?" (to which your answer "yes" might have been valid) but "What can they...?". Also, the snake in the picture is a boa constrictor, and not a python (royal or otherwise) as your phrasing could lead someone to infer. – ClickRick Jan 18 at 9:16
Also, I am trying to say that all they feel is fear and anger. They can't feel anything more because of their primeval brain – Tusky Jan 18 at 13:13
A snake is not going to start a fight with anything that's not prey unless threatened. Naturally it will be curious. If it's a domestic snake and the cat isn't being threatening to it, it'll be curious about it just as they are curious about people and comfortable crawling all over you and hissing in your ear without attacking. It's not evolutionary viable to start random fights. Even if the snake wins the cat can do damage that leads to infection and death. If it's got a reliable source of food it's not going to try and eat the cat either. – HaMMeReD Feb 14 at 5:49
Good point. It's just that some snakes are a bit more cautious than others – Tusky Feb 14 at 10:22

protected by Chris Feb 17 at 14:35

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.