Do Snakes Have A Heart? (Cardiovascular System)

Yes, snakes have a three-chambered heart that is positioned within the ribcage. The heart is mobile and not attached to a diaphragm; this enables a snake to swallow its prey whole. 

Cardiovascular System

Systemic Venous Return

Snakes have renal and hepatic portal circulations—the jugular vein located anterior to the heart near the trachea. The right jugular of the snake is much larger than the left jugular. Blood returns into the heart from the systemic circulation through the sinus venosus.


The Snakes heart’s position is mobile within the ribcage as there is no diaphragm. The heart position can be slightly different depending on the snake’s ecological niche and phylogenetic position.

Having a mobile heart will help when the snake is eating larger prey. 

A snakes heart has three chambers: 

  1. Right atria 
  2. Left atria
  3. Ventricle

The right atrium purpose is to receive deoxygenated blood from the systemic circulation, and the left atria receive oxygenated blood from the lungs of the left and right pulmonary veins. 

The ventricle chamber has internal ridges that enable a significant functional separation between the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. 

The ventricle chamber has three subchambers: 

  1. Cavum pulmonale
  2. Cavum venosum
  3. Cavum arteriosum

Snakes can control the arterial pressure reflexly, but this gets weakened when the body temperature is outside the preferred optimum temperature zone. 

Systemic Arteries

The snake has two aortae that leave the heart. One is the right aorta which exits from the left side of the ventricle, and the left aorta exits from the right side. The aortae join the caudal to the heart to form the abdominal aorta that stretches through to the coelomic cavity. 

The left systemic artery is larger than the right, the opposite of most tetrapods. Carotids extend cranially from the heart and adjacent to the trachea.


The average snake volume ratio of red blood cells to the total volume of blood is between 20% and 30%. However, in some snakes, species can be slightly less. Take, for instance, the rat snake. A rat snake can have around a 6% ratio.

How many hearts does a snake have?

Snakes have just one heart with three chambers called the right atria, left atria and ventricle.

Can a snake love you like other pets?

Snakes don’t have the same loving response to their owners as other pets. This is because they do not have the intellectual capacity to feel any emotions of love.

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By Teresa Mine

Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. She loves binge-watching animal documentaries. Teresa has some pets; she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.