Given the Cold Shoulder: A Review of the Scientific Literature for Evidence of Reptile Sentience

We searched a selection of the scientific literature to document evidence for, and explorations into reptile sentience. The intention of this review was to highlight; (1) to what extent reptile capability for emotions have been documented in the scientific literature; (2) to discuss the implications this evidence has for the trade in reptiles; and (3) […]

Growth rates of juvenile Boa constrictor under two feeding regimes

Many husbandry routines in zoo herpetology are based on tradition, authoritarianism, anecdote, or speculation. However, relatively few empirical studies underlie many very common practices. We compared growth rates among littermates of Boa constrictor raised under two feeding regimes that were identical in terms of the mass of food ingested, but differed in weekly versus bi-weekly […]

Spatial considerations for captive snakes

Captive environments for snakes commonly involve small enclosures with dimensions that prevent occupants from adopting straight line body postures. In particular, the commercial, hobby, and pet sectors routinely utilize small vivaria and racking systems, although zoos and other facilities also commonly maintain at least some snakes under broadly similar conditions. Captive snakes may be the […]

Infrared imaging in vipers: differential responses of crotaline and viperine snakes to paired thermal targets

Pit vipers use infrared-sensitive pit organs to accurately target homeothermic prey even in the absence of visual cues. It has been suggested that other vipers, including large ambush predators of the genus Bitis, also may use radiant infrared information for predatory targeting.We compared behavioral responses of pit vipers and snakes of the viperine genus Bitis […]

Why Snakes Have Forked Tongues

The serpent’s forked tongue has intrigued humankind for millennia, but its function has remained obscure. Theory, anatomy, neural circuitry, function, and behavior now support a hypothesis of the forked tongue as a chemosensory edge detector used to follow pheromone trails of prey and conspecifics. The ability to sample simultaneously two points along a chemical gradient […]

Modelling imaging performance of snake infrared sense

Several snake species use infrared-sensitive pit organs to localise prey. These sensory organs enable the snake to successfully strike prey items even in total darkness or following the disruption of other sensory systems. The pit organ has traditionally been thought to function as a pinhole camera. The need, however, to gather a reasonable amount of […]

Of tongues and noses: chemoreception in lizards and snakes

Lizards and snakes inhabit a world so richly textured in chemical information that, as primates, we can only imagine it. Subtle nuances of chemical shading underline nearly every fundamental activity of their lives, from finding foot to finding mates. Recent work examines the nature of these chemical messages, mechanisms for their perception, the interplay of […]

Predatory behavior of the snake Bothrops jararaca and its adaptation to captivity

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.1038.abs Habituation to captivity is difficult for some species. Understanding the motivational elements involved in predation may ease this habituation. Seventy-one Brazilian jararaca snakes (Bothrops jararaca [Wied, 1824], Viperidae, Crotalinae) recently captured and never fed in captivity were tested for predatory behavior on rodents. Lighting was adapted to allow predatory sessions to occur during […]

Estimated number of snake species that can be managed by Species Survival Plans in North America

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.1430120302.abs A survey designed to estimate the number of snake enclosures available for Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs was distributed to all North American zoos containing 100 or more reptile and amphibian specimens. Of the 52 zoos surveyed, 44 (84.6%) responded, indicating that 790 (26.3%) of the 3,012 snake enclosures were available for SSP […]

Defensive tactics in lizards and snakes: the potential contribution of the Neotropical fauna