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Effects of Hunger on Striking, Prey-Handling, and Venom Expenditure of Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus v. viridis)

William K. Hayes
Herpetologica
Vol. 49, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 305-310
Published by: Allen Press on behalf of the Herpetologists' League
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3892748
Page Count: 6
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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.
Effects of Hunger on Striking, Prey-Handling, and Venom Expenditure of Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus v. viridis)
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Abstract

The feeding behavior of animals can be modified in response to hunger. This study examined how hunger influences striking, prey-handling, and venom expenditure by prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus v. viridis) feeding on deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus). Eleven snakes were allowed to strike mice after seven and 28 days of food deprivation (i.e., well-fed and hungry conditions, respectively) in a repeated measures design. Hungry snakes were somewhat less successful in striking (more missed attempts), but the frequency of multiple bites, site struck, distance of strike, duration of strike, handling of prey (hold versus release), and latency to begin prey relocation (strike-induced chemosensory searching) did not vary between conditions. Hungry snakes expended less venom when securing prey than well-fed snakes, due perhaps to conservation of venom supplies or constraints on venom delivery. Performance of envenomated mice, including distance traveled and time to immobilization and death, did not differ between conditions. Apparently rattlesnakes do not respond to increased hunger by reducing the risks associated with the release and possible loss of envenomated rodent prey.

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