The Effects of Prey Species Presence on Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) Foraging Behaviors
Ethan J. Royal1,* and Terence M. Farrell2
1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701. 2Department of Biology, Stetson University, DeLand, FL 32723. *Corresponding author.
Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 20, Issue 2 (2021): 338–344
We investigated Sistrurus miliarius (Pygmy Rattlesnake) foraging in field behavior trials by filming rattlesnakes found in typical foraging postures and randomly exposing each snake to 1 of 3 prey-stimulus treatments: frog, anole, or control. Treatment snakes were presented with a prey item tethered away from the snake using dental floss, while control snakes were exposed to a similarly placed piece of floss with no attached prey. We observed 3 instances of caudal luring and found that Pygmy Rattlesnakes tongue-flicked and respired at significantly higher rates if they relocated during the trial. There was no statistically significant effect of prey type on relocation or respiration rate. Our research provides an adaptable methodological framework for studying foraging behavior in free-ranging predators using introduced, responsive prey.
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