Immobility and supination in garter snakes (Thamnophis elegans) following handling by human predators

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
P.T. Gregory, L.A. Gregory
Journal of Comparative Psychology
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
1939-2087 0735-7036

A common response of animals to physical restraint is tonic immobility. The authors observed the behavior of garter snakes, Thamnophis elegans, in the field to determine the frequency of immobility as a response to handling. Most snakes fled after release, but the remainder remained immobile, sometimes on their backs (supination), for up to 10 min. Immobility was seen most often in pregnant snakes, which also were more likely than other snakes not to have moved before capture. Failure to move, either before or after capture, might be a consequence of the limited locomotory ability of gravid snakes. However, the lack of observations of interactions between snakes and their natural predators impedes researchers’ understanding of the antipredator value, if any, of tonic immobility


Back to Resources