You are not currently logged in.
Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Proximate Factors Affecting the Predatory Behavior of the Red Spitting Cobra, Naja mossambica pallida
Kenneth V. Kardong, Tammy L. Kiene and E. K. Johnson
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 66-71
Published by: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1565330
Page Count: 6
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
Cobras lack infrared facial pits, are largely diurnal hunters, and exhibit active hunting behavior, suggesting that proximate visual stimuli may be of primary importance in guiding or releasing predatory behaviors. Further, predatory behavior in some snakes involves a hierarchical evaluation of multiple sensory stimuli by the central nervous system assigning some stimuli primary roles and others subordinate roles in eliciting specific foraging behaviors. To test these possibilities in cobras, mice were presented to five red spitting cobras with and without their eyes covered, and 13 dependent predatory variables scored in each treatment. We found that cobras with the use of their eyes struck prey sooner, and from greater range, than when they were blindfolded, results consistent with the view that red spitting cobras are primarily visual predators. Blindfolded cobras exhibited elevated rates of tongue flicking prior to striking but they took longer to locate prey, changed locomotor behavior (increased movement, sweeping motions of head), and usually struck only after making actual tactile contact with the prey. In the absence of visual stimuli, red spitting cobras increase their reliance on chemical cues, but this did not allow them to maintain a level of predatory performance equivalent to that seen in the control condition. We conclude that switching within the central nervous system between sensory modalities is fundamentally different in cobras than in pit vipers.
Journal of Herpetology © 1997 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles