CZAAWE Resource Article

Strike-induced chemosensory searching (SICS) in northern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis oreganus, Holbrook, 1840) rescued from substandard husbandry conditions. II. Complete recovery of function after two years
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2361(1999)18:2<141::AID-ZOO5>3.3.CO;2-J Six northern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis oreganus) rescued from substandard husbandry conditions were shipped from Woodland Park Zoological Gardens to the University of Colorado in December 1994. The snakes accepted prey and rapidly gained weight, but their searching behavior after predatory strikes was seriously depressed. We administered repeated tests of strike-induced chemosensory searching (SICS) finding that the snakes improved steadily with each succeeding test, until performance eventually reached the level characteristic of this taxon. Although the snakes reached normal body weight within 4 months of exposure to proper husbandry conditions, normal SICS was not seen until 2 years had elapsed. Release of these snakes into natural habitat prior to recovery of SICS may well have resulted in the demise of the animals, suggesting that rehabilitation efforts must consider recovery of essential behavior patterns that can take far longer than recovery of body weight. Zoo Biol 18:141–146, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.