Do Snake Fangs Grow Back?

Snakes’ fangs are something that a lot of people don’t know much about. I got curious about them, however, and did some research. I wanted to know whether they grow back, and here’s what I found.

Do snake fangs grow back? Snake fangs do grow back. Snake species with fangs will shed their fangs about every six to eight weeks and more will come in their place. This is so that the snake has fresh, sharp fangs for biting and injecting venom into its prey. It’s important because the snake needs to be able to bite into its prey rapidly and without any struggle.

If you read on, you can learn about what happens when a snake sheds their fangs and the difference between snakes with fangs and those with teeth. Surprisingly, there is a difference and it’s super cool! And, you’ll learn that not all snakes have fangs either and what exactly that difference is. So, read on!

Why Do Snakes Shed Their Fangs?

Snakes are peculiar creatures. The more you learn about the nature of their ways, the more curios you get. At least, that’s how it was for me. Not only do snakes shed their skin every so often, but they also shed their fangs frequently!

Snakes shed their fangs roughly every six to eight weeks in order to keep their fangs sharp and rigid for maximum quality of use when hunting and striking their prey. They shed the fangs because dull fangs don’t bite into other animals as easily and rapidly. Shedding the fangs also helps ensure that the snake’s fangs that are in use are rigid and strong and not old and brittle etc.

Without their fangs being, shed, snakes would have a very hard time biting into their prey and injecting the venom necessary for easy consumption of the snake’s new meal. Dull fangs would eventually lead to snakes dying and possibly going extinct due to the lack of rapid bites and venom injections needed to stop their prey, and even predators, from fighting back and injuring, possibly killing, the snakes. 

Snakes, as you know, use their fangs to stop their hunted prey so that the snakes can eat. Most snakes eat about once a week. So that is at least 4 or 5 rapid punctures per month on your snakes teeth! Rapid stabs or punctures are very dulling to sharp objects as well.

Imagine your pocket knife or kitchen knives at home. If you rapidly stab the very tip of that knife into your cutting board hard enough for it to stand up on its own, your knife is immediately going to be significantly duller on the tip than it originally was. That is just with ONE hard, fast stab. Now imagine having to do that about five times a month. You will end up having useless, dull knives, or you will have to sharpen your knives A LOT, right?

This is the same with snakes. Their “sharp kitchen knives” in their mouths that we call “fangs” get super dull after rapidly puncturing their prey so often. This is why they have to shed them so often: so that their “kitchen knives” stay sharp enough for proper use.

How Do Fangs Work?

Snakes’ fangs are hollow in the middle so that when they bite their prey they can inject their venom, stopping their prey from further fighting back. They have venom glands located right behind their jaw near the back of their heads that contract when the snake bites someone or something. This results in releasing the venom into the prey’s flesh and bloodstream.

Snakes, as I have mentioned, shed their fangs every month and a half or so. Snakes with fangs often have a couple sets of back up fangs lined up behind their initial set of fangs. These back up fangs grow bigger and bigger as they get closer to moving up and replacing the old set of fangs that fall out. Once the old set of fangs are shed, the next set in line is already there and ready for use, even if the front fangs are shed at separate times.

This cycle of fangs growing and moving up from the back of the jaw to the front as more fangs are shed is a continual cycle throughout snakes’ lives. Without this cycle, they wouldn’t be able to eat or defend themselves resulting in starving to death or dying from lack of self-defense.

An adult eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) in mid-strike, revealing its fangs and inner mouth.

Do All Snakes Have Fangs?

Though their are quite a few commonly known types of snakes that have fangs, not all snakes have them. Some snakes have teeth and not fangs. How would these other snakes catch their prey though?

Snakes without fangs usually have another method of retrieving their prey, such as constricting. These snakes that don’t bite and inject their prey with toxic venom are usually not poisonous as well. These snakes will sometimes release a foul-smelling musk when threatened to draw their predators away, depending on the type of snake. 

Snakes with teeth and not venom are known as constrictors because they kill and over power their prey by suffocation. These snakes will inhibit their prey’s senses somehow, rapidly coil themselves around their prey, and continue to squeeze until their prey has lost their oxygen supply.

They will then swallow their prey whole, like all snakes do, to slowly digest. Their teeth, though they don’t inject venom to poison their prey, will help with retrieving the snakes’ prey and slowly pushing the dead carcass back into the snake’s throat for further digestion.

What is the Difference Between Fangs and Teeth?

Now that we have established that not all snakes have fangs and that those that don’t have teeth, what exactly is the difference between the function of the different types of “teeth” snakes might have?

Fangs are hollow, long curved teeth that are used to stab deep into another animal, whether predator or prey. When these teeth are punctured into the animal’s flesh, the toxic venom flows through the teeth and right into the inflicted animal poisoning it and often times killing it. This fanged-snake them swallows its prey whole for the slow digestion process to then be applied.

On the contrary, snakes with teeth find other ways to inhibit the senses of the animal they are attacking like releasing a foul musk. Then they coil themselves around the animal and tighten their grip until it loses its oxygen supply and dies. After the prey is dead, the snake uses their teeth to help slowly move their prey into down their throats for the digestion process.

Related Questions

Can you get a snake’s fangs removed? You can get a snake’s fangs removed, but snake fangs do grow back and the snake will continue to be venomous unless you remove both the fangs and the venom glands.

Can snakes be de-venomized?  Snakes can most definitely be de-venomized! Once you do this, you should also remove the fangs to ensure that all venom ducts are removed. After all of this is done your snake is considered virtually harmless. If your snake bites you, though it may be bloody after the fangs grow back, you won’t have to worry about being poisoned.

If you defang a snake, will they grow back?If you defang your snake, they will grow back because they are a necessary element of the reptile’s nature in order for it to be able to catch and eat its prey.

Danielle Newsom

Hey guys! I am an English major studying in Southeastern Idaho and loving every second of it. I love blogging and strive to help others with my colleagues to have ease of access in one place to anything they may want to know about snakes. I have some experience with snakes and have done crazy amounts of research in the areas I lack to help you guys get the best quality answers possible.

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