Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lessons From Snakes: The Better Part Of Valor

Date:
September 22, 2004
Source:
University Of South Florida
Summary:
Biology Ph.D. student Joel Johnson and co-author Eric Roth, University of Oklahoma, found that when test snakes were confronted with danger their first reaction was to retreat. Smaller snakes, although just as likely to flee or strike as larger snakes, were more likely to issue warnings.

Cottonmouth.
Credit: Photo courtesy of University Of South Florida

Biology Ph.D. student Joel Johnson and co-author Eric Roth, University of Oklahoma, found that when test snakes were confronted with danger their first reaction was to retreat. Smaller snakes, although just as likely to flee or strike as larger snakes, were more likely to issue warnings. But, over all, test snakes of all sizes were more likely to exercise the better part of valor: they ran away. Rather, slithered.

Related Articles


"Our results show a gradual decrease in response to a predatory encounter with an increase in body size," said Johnson.

Johnson and Roth collected 46 variable-sized western cottonmouths in Texas and cared for them in the laboratory for months before testing. Using a metal snake tong with a welding gloved fitted to the end, researchers nudged the snakes' faces. As the snakes responded, researchers documented seven common antipredator behaviors - escape, defensive posture, tail vibrations, musk release, mouth gapes, strikes and bites. After testing, the snakes were released to the wild where they were captured.

"We found that antipredator behavior varied with body size," said Johnson. "The bigger the snake, there was less defensive response and fleeing became more common."

Were the bigger snakes older and wiser? Perhaps.

"Younger snakes may exhibit an elevated defense response," said Johnson. "Assuming the younger snakes were less experienced, older snakes may have been better able to evaluate the risk and respond accordingly."

Johnson and Roth published their study in Behavioral Ecology (Vol. 15 No. 2: 365-370).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of South Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of South Florida. "Lessons From Snakes: The Better Part Of Valor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922074919.htm>.
University Of South Florida. (2004, September 22). Lessons From Snakes: The Better Part Of Valor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922074919.htm
University Of South Florida. "Lessons From Snakes: The Better Part Of Valor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922074919.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Hundreds of snakes, disturbed by a construction project, were relocated to a wildlife rescue association in Canada. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Buzz60 (Mar. 2, 2015) Zookeepers at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, Australia decided to take some of their favorite animal photos and recreate them by posing just like the animals. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heavy Toll as Australian Farmers Struggle Through Drought

Heavy Toll as Australian Farmers Struggle Through Drought

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) Mounting debts, despair and forced repossessions are taking a heavy toll on farmers in parts of Australia suffering from its worst drought in 100 years. Duration: 02:16 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins