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.

"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 July 24, 2014 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 July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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