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Abstract

Many garter snakes, Thamnophis melanogaster, at a desert pond first started foraging for tadpoles when mean water surface temperature was about 20 °C (at 0945–1015 h), and the number of snakes tripled when water temperature reached about 24 °C (at 1100–1130 h). In two years, snakes foraged in April and May, but not in March when water never reached 23 °C and only exceeded 20 °C for a few hours after the usual foraging hours. Snakes in the laboratory dedicated increasing amounts of time to underwater foraging as air and water temperatures increased from 9 °C to 29 °C, and their rate of attacks on fish increased steeply and progressively above an apparent threshold lying between roughly 19 °C and 24 °C, up to at least 29 °C. Temperature may limit T. melanogaster's foraging at the pond to the hours after roughly 0900 h and to the period after roughly March, despite evidence that prey abundance is maximal in March.