strange head movement in rat snake

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ratsnake
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strange head movement in rat snake

Post by ratsnake » April 3rd, 2012, 7:54 am

I have seen this head movement in prairie kingsnakes but not in great plains rat snakes. I assumed they were attempting to mimic the quick head movements of the western massasaugas that are common in the area. Have you ever seen this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQkNtni6 ... ata_player
Wish I had better video of this.

Mark

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monklet
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by monklet » April 3rd, 2012, 8:11 am

Very interesting. Never seen any snake do that. I'm assuming that it is a sort of defensive display but can't make any of sense out of it aside from your comment that massasaugas do something similar and so it may then be a form of mimicry analagous to aposematism.

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Joe Farah
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by Joe Farah » April 3rd, 2012, 8:20 am

I've seen a number of emoryii, including on roads at night like that... but never seen that head movement before. The Massys out here display that regularly like you mentioned.

will lattea
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by will lattea » April 3rd, 2012, 8:28 am

I've seen Corn Snakes do it in areas of NC where there are a lot of S. miliarius around. I've seen the pigs do it too- that's generally what I associate the behavior with. I've heard that other types of snakes in these areas pick up the habit as well, although I have no clue why and would love to know!

w

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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by gretzkyrh4 » April 3rd, 2012, 9:14 am

Hey Mark,

No clue on why they do it, but I've seen that behavior in a couple of emoryi found in that area as well. I've also seen one corn in FL do it as well.

Chris

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Tim Borski
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by Tim Borski » April 3rd, 2012, 10:47 am

I see them do the head flip thing quite frequently, whether Pigmies are present in the in area or not.
It's just their way of saying "Hello, I'm a biter." :lol:


Image


Tim

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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by neherper » April 3rd, 2012, 12:46 pm

in my last few years of studying saugies i have still to witness this head bobbing behavior with them. prairie kingsnakes are found in the same area and they do it 80% of the time. i have not witnessed it in any other species as of yet. i would have to say box turtles do it the most...especially when you try to feed them something that does not smell or look good to them lol

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justinm
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by justinm » April 3rd, 2012, 1:08 pm

I've seen Prairie Kings do this vigorously, and I've heard it's to imitate saugas. I've yet to see a sauga do that.

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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by salamanderhunter » April 3rd, 2012, 4:35 pm

here's a guess... possibly to better pick up scent? Kind of 'ramming' the scent particles into the receptors. Like whitetailed deer do when they throw their head back. I've stalked bullsnakes on the hunt and watched them throw their head side to side. Since I wasn't noticed by the snakes I doubt their display was a defensive one. Might be another form of this display?

SnakeDude
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by SnakeDude » April 3rd, 2012, 5:32 pm

nice observations, especially salamanderhunter, but I think that we are all thinking too far outside of the box, and they just do it when they're cold to get the blood pumpin so they can bite faster :lol:
-Ian

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Don Becker
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by Don Becker » April 3rd, 2012, 5:41 pm

justinm wrote:I've seen Prairie Kings do this vigorously, and I've heard it's to imitate saugas. I've yet to see a sauga do that.
I've seen a baby sauga do it.

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pete
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by pete » April 3rd, 2012, 6:14 pm

eastern milks do it here regularly

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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by zwhitman » April 3rd, 2012, 6:28 pm

I have seen corns do it. I have no basis for this theory but I always just thought it was a sign of agitation / high sympathetic tone. Kind of like a cat twitching its tail, or a person tapping their foot when they get excited.

neherper
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by neherper » April 3rd, 2012, 6:57 pm

ive read of saugies and milks doing it. nothing about elaphe/pantherophis though. my guess it is just a threat display. its saying no dont touch me or ill bite ya

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by Bryan Hamilton » April 4th, 2012, 8:03 am

I've always called it the "Agkistrodon twitch". I've seen it in copperheads and massassaugas.

As Pete said, eastern milks do it regularly and I assumed this was to mimick copperheads.

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Chris Smith
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by Chris Smith » April 4th, 2012, 12:22 pm

I have seen adult milk snakes do that here in MN (well outside the range of copperheads).

-Chris

SnakeDude
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by SnakeDude » April 5th, 2012, 5:38 pm

then milk snakes must be color blind, because they look so different from copperheads, they couldn't even fool my grandma :lol:
-Ian

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Crimson King
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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by Crimson King » April 5th, 2012, 5:52 pm

mole kings do it frequently. The 2 I got in the last week, (mole and south FL mole ) both did it right off when photographed...The "oddest" occurence for me is when a c.b. snow FL king did it when I was taking a photo. I'd never seen a FL king do it before.....
:Mark

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Re: strange head movement in rat snake

Post by muskiemagnet » April 6th, 2012, 10:33 am

i think the pigmys and saugas do it to mimic the other snakes. :lol: :lol: :lol:

not sure if there even needs to be a reason for this. they just do. that's my theory.

it is pretty cool though.

-ben

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