New Research Proves That Snakes Hunt In Packs

Submitted by: rumham 10 months ago in Science


Bad news from CNN:

A scientist from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has discovered that a species of snake, the Cuban boa, hunts in groups, and through teamwork improve their chances of catching prey.
It's the first time that reptiles have been observed to have been involved in "coordinated hunting," where individual animals take into account the location of others of the same species to maximize their hunting successes.




There are 22 comments:
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Male 938
I'd be interested to know if this is something new to the species. (new could be a thousand years old of course, since what I am talking about is Evolution)
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Male 4,696
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Male 21,367
I just naturally assumed all snakes hunt in packs. 
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Male 6,994
fancylad No, no, no. That's squirrels that do that, not snakes.
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Male 9,342
squrlz4ever But do squirrels hunt snakes?  Or do you leave that to your cousin Riki Tiki Squirrlzee?
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Male 6,994
megrendel Some squirrels are very adept snake warriors. Researchers have even found that some ground squirrels that routinely battle venomous snakes have evolved tails that heat up in mid-battle to throw off the snakes' infrared targeting sensors. As a mere Eastern Gray Squirrel, however, I tend to give snakes a wide berth. ~involuntary shudder~

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi totally rocks, but I'm not anywhere near that nimble. I'd be a cobra's lunch in no time, no doubt.
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Male 6,994
Okay, I'm going to channel my inner geek and attempt to critique the author's paper, which I've just read.

The author (A) states that the snakes positioned themselves to maximize their hunting efficiency and (B) interprets this as collaborative behavior. Part A of that assertion seems proven to me, but not B. It may be the case that the snakes always chose to hang from the ceiling in the most constricted passage in the cave, which would not require any form of collaboration. If one snake was hanging from a given location, the passages on either side of the hanging snake are more constricted than open space, so if finding a location where bats are most likely to be channeled is the goal, it follows that the arriving snake would locate himself beside the existing snake--simply for reasons of geometry.

The author could check for this possibility by hanging a broomstick from the cave's ceiling and observing the behavior of snakes that arrived thereafter. If the first arriving snake positioned itself between the hanging broomstick and the cave wall, that would suggest that collaboration may be playing less of a role in this behavior than the scientist initially assumed.
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Male 1,588
squrlz4ever Pretty much what I was thinking, but you worded it much better than I would have.

On the other hand, I have owned and bred snakes in the past.  No Boa's, only King Snakes, so maybe Boa's behave differently.  King Snakes however, are very territorial.  You can't put 2 in the same space, they will fight to the death.  You can't even put a male and a female together unless the conditions are right.  So if Boa's typically express similar behavior and are not here, he may be on to something.  I don't know much about Boa's though, only King Snakes.
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Male 6,994
waldo863 I enjoyed the paper; it's certainly thought-provoking and my critique may be off-mark. Thanks for sharing your snake observations. They make this whole subject that much more interesting.

With your permission, I may email the author your and my thoughts on his paper. If he responds, it will make a fun follow-up post. May I?
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