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Iclamae's avatar

Is it a snake that produces the almond smell as a warning?

Asked by Iclamae (2409 points ) October 30th, 2009

I remember when I was young, my dad told me that if I smell almonds, get out of there, there’s a snake. He’s asleep now so I can’t call and ask but it’s really bothering me which snake it was. I want to say copperhead…? I got on this topic when my boyfriend and I were discussing how cyanide smells like almonds, which I knew from this story for some reason…

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25 Answers

delirium's avatar

Not that I know of.

Many snakes produce the worst smelling stuff imaginable (called ‘musk’) when they’re positive you’re very hungry and think that they look delicious…

I don’t know of any that produce a ‘nice’ smell…

faye's avatar

cyanide, alfred hitchcock, carey grant, the aunts

Darwin's avatar

Copperheads are supposed to smell like cucumbers. However, while they do have a strong odor, it is slightly sweet and not precisely cucumber-like. It is unpleasant, however, and I can recognize it when I smell it. It does not smell like almonds to me.

Some watersnakes smell a bit more like cucumber than copperheads do, and water moccasins smell “musky.” And then there are hognose snakes, which vomit, poop and pee, so you won’t want to have anything at all to do with them. If that isn’t enough, they roll over on their backs and do their best to look dead.

A discussion of snake odors can be found here.

trailsillustrated's avatar

only certain people can smell the almond smell related to cyanide, theyve isolated the genetic marker, only in some people. so if it is a snake only certain people could smell it!

virtualist's avatar

A recipe called the ‘almond snake’ (M’Hencha) ultimately is made as a long coil of phyllo filled with ground almond paste. http://www.cafenilson.com/2009/05/almond-snake-mhencha/

delirium's avatar

My experiences with copperheads is that they have no particular smell at all, and this is much closer than you’d be if you were in the wild and came across one accidentally.

Iclamae's avatar

!!! @Darwin, THAT’S IT! Thank you so much. I’m not sure why I know cyanide smells like almonds then.

@faye, Niice are you sure you don’t mean arsenic?

faye's avatar

i don’t think arsenic has so much smell, bitter taste. but i know you are right about the movie ” arsenic and old lace’. cyanide has the almond smell and a bunch of drugs that i’ve given as a nurse have smells- no, no ,no cyanide . sigh, carey grant

avvooooooo's avatar

@trailsillustrated I wonder if they’re the same people who can smell asparagus pee?

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

If you are close enough to smell a poisonous snake, maybe you need to find companions in your own species.

Darwin's avatar

@avvooooooo You mean some people can’t smell asparagus pee?! Wish I were one of those people.

avvooooooo's avatar

@Darwin Apparently! I can, but I love asparagus enough to ignore it!

delirium's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra Or maybe you’re just really interested in and good with snakes.

Darwin's avatar

I know a guy who has been bitten 22 times by Water Moccasins. He really likes snakes.

delirium's avatar

He sounds like he likes snakes, but isn’t very good at catching them…

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@delirium and @Darwin, I like snakes too, but I have enough sense to not pick them up or piss them off if they are venomous.

faye's avatar

asparagus pee means you had a great meal! i fed beets to a man from portugal and didn’t think to tell him about the pee and poo…

Darwin's avatar

@delirium – Actually he is very good at catching them. He just isn’t very good at not getting bitten. He is a herpetologist who specializes in Water Moccasin behavior.

delirium's avatar

Ooh, sounds like my kind of guy.

I’ve, luckily, not been bitten by anything venomous yet. Hopefully it’ll stay that way. Snake hooks help.

majorrich's avatar

next spring will be my first harvest from my asparagus patch, if the deer don’t get it first.

Iclamae's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra :) I don’t think the venom is what the smell is. I think it’s a warning smell they release.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@Iclamae I know it isn’t the venom that smells. I have been around snakes most of my life, kept them as pets, and can tell a venomous water snake from the non venomous just by looking at them. I used to be pretty adept at catching wild snakes. Unfortunately, my reflexes aren’t what they once were. Now I settle with catching spiders with my bare hands. Spiders are venomous, but not likely to cause much harm if they bite, which they rarely do anyway.

Most water snakes have a musky scent they release from their waste vent, and it stinks to high heaven. Garter snakes, a species of water snake, are very famously known as one that will ‘shit’ on you, so you will release it. Sort of like toads that piss on you. Funny thing about water snakes, the nonvenomous ones are just as aggressive as the venomous ones. My favorite water snake is the yellow bellied water snake, common here in the midwest.

majorrich's avatar

and they mostly taste like chicken?

Darwin's avatar

@majorrich – But the bones are a dead giveaway.

Gjeez's avatar

Yes…In South Africa where I live it is popular belief that when you smell anything while you are in the woods or by the river bank you should stay clear because a snake is nearby.

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