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 November 28, 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 November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. 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:

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