Strike Induced Chemosensory Searching in Cobras: (Naja naja kaouthia, N. mossambica pallida)

Authors

  • David Chiszar,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and EPO Biology, University of Colorado Boulder and Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York
      Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309
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  • Kathryn Stimac,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and EPO Biology, University of Colorado Boulder and Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York
      Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309
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  • Thomas Poole,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and EPO Biology, University of Colorado Boulder and Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York
      Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309
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  • Tracy Miller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and EPO Biology, University of Colorado Boulder and Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York
      Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Reptile Department, Buffalo, N. Y., 14214, U.S.A.
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  • Charles W. Radcliffe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and EPO Biology, University of Colorado Boulder and Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York
      Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309
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  • Hobart M. Smith

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and EPO Biology, University of Colorado Boulder and Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York
      Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309
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Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309

Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Co, 80309

Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Reptile Department, Buffalo, N. Y., 14214, U.S.A.

Abstract

Abstract and Summary

Predatory behavior was studied in 11 juvenile red spitting cobras (Naja mossambica pallida) and in subadult monocled cobras (N. n. kaouthia). Both taxa usually struck and released mice (Mus musculus) that were greater than 15 g, whereas neonatal mice were usually held following the strike. Large mice lived for 300–600 s after envenomation and were able to wander away from the site of attack. Snakes located the carcasses through searching behaviors which seemed to utilize chemical and visual cues arising from prey. Both taxa exhibited larger increases in rate of tongue flicking after striking (and releasing) mice than after seeing, smelling, and/or detecting thermal cues arising from mice. Strike-induced chemosensory searching (SICS) in these elapids was similar to behaviors previously described in many viperid species which have specialized on rodent prey. Although adult cobras may abandon the strike-release-trail strategy in favor of holding rodent prey after the strike, the behavior of the present juveniles and subadults was consistent with speculation that SICS is analogous in the Viperidae and the Elapidae.

Zusammenfassung

Das Jagdverhalten junger roter Speikobras (Naja mossambica pallida) und jungerwachsener Brillenkobras (N. m. kaouthia) wurde untersucht. Mäuse (Mus musculus), die schwerer als 15 g waren, wurden von beiden Arten gebissen und wieder freigelassen; neugeborene Mäuse dagegen wurden nach dem Biß festgehalten.

Große Mäuse lebten noch 300–600 s nach dem Giftstich und waren fähig, sich vom Ort des Angriffs zu entfernen. Die Schlangen schienen die Kadaver zu finden, indem sie bei der Suche chemische und visuelle Reize der Beute nutzten.

Beide Arten zeigten größere Steigerungen in der Züngelrate nach dem Beißen (und Freilassen) von Mäusen, verglichen mit dem Züngeln, das dem Sehen, Riechen und/oder Entdecken thermischer Reize von Mäusen folgte.

Das bißabhängige chemosensorische Suchverhalten (SICS, strike-induced chemosensory searching) dieser Elapiden ist dem früher beschriebenen Verhalten vieler Vipernarten ähnlich, die auf Nagetierbeute spezialisiert sind. Obwohl erwachsene Kobras ihre Nagetierbeute nach dem Biß häufiger festhalten als freilassen und suchen, stützt das Verhalten der hier beschriebenen jungen und jungerwachsenen Schlangen die Vermutung, daß SICS ein analoges Verhalten der Viperidae und der Elapidae ist.

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