Zoo and laboratory experiments on the behavior of snakes- assessments of competence in captive-raised animals

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
D Chizar, H.M. Smith, C.W. Radcliffe
American Zoologist
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Specific experiments on rattlesnake predatory behavior are described. Specimens of taxa bred in zoos are shown to behave qualitatively like wild-caught congeners, suggesting that the captive-bred animals have the skill necessary to hunt in natural habitats. Frequently, wildcaught conspecifics are unavailable for comparison with captive-raised individuals. Although this comparison is desirable, we must develop research strategies that can proceed without it. The qualitative analytical approach advocated here does this by relying heavily upon the natural history literature and on research with congeneric organisms to provide expectations (predictions) about the performance of captive-raised individuals. Advantages and disadvantages of this approach are discussed. We provide illustrations of its application to several predatory and antipredatory phenomena, and we list a variety of additional potential applications.


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