Led by the blind: bandy-bandy snakes Vermicella annulata (Elapidae) follow blindsnake chemical trails

Amer Soc Ichthyologists Herpetologists
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Copeia, 2005, 2005 (1), pp. 184 - 187
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The ability to detect and follow prey chemical trails is important for actively foraging nocturnal snakes. We investigated whether a nocturnal, ophiophagous (snake-eating) predator, the Bandy-Bandy (Vermicella annulata) can detect and follow blindsnake chemical trails. Adult Bandy-Bandys were offered the choice between control trails (distilled water) and chemical trails from three sympatric squamate species. Bandy-Bandys ignored distilled water trails and the trails of the burrowing Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink (Saiphos equalis) and the nocturnal Golden Crowned Snake (Cacophis squamulosus). In contrast, all of the Bandy-Bandys followed chemical trails from the Blackish Blindsnake (Ramphotyphlaps nigrescens), and three snakes followed the blindsnake trails along their entire length (mean distance followed = 0.93 m, range 0.2-1.4 m). Our results suggest Bandy Bandys use chemical cues to locate blindsnakes but do not respond to chemical trails of other sympatric squamate species.
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