Prairie rattlesnake vernal migration: field experimental analyses and survival value

D. Duvall, M. J. Goode, W. K. Hayes, J. K. Leonhardt, D. G. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Wyoming Crotalus viridis viridis exhibit lengthy seasonal migrations away from and then back to home dens. Once they had begun traveling, vernal migrants were experimentally exposed to: patches augmented with live, caged deer mice; patches augmented with cages containing deer-mouse-derived chemical cues but no live deer mice; or cages containing neither deer mice nor their chemicals (a control condition). Both males and females responded to patches containing live deer mice with significant reduction in activity. Females remained in patches containing caged deer mice for c24 hr before moving on, while male became virtually immobile once the caged rodents were located. Males appear to assume ambushing tactics more than females, once prey patches are located. Males also responded to conditions containing deer-mouse chemicals alone with reduction in activity. Results support the following hypotheses: a primary function of prairie rattlesnake vernal migrations in Wyoming is to find food; males and females differ in vernal foraging patterns. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-469
Number of pages13
JournalNational Geographic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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