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SCAVENGING SNAKES



> is it true that most snakes will 
> not eat food unless they are close to body temperature?


Two extreme anecdotal cases:

- A hungry viper (Vipera aspis; length: 55 cm) recently installed in my
terrarium ate a small dead fish (length: 7 cm). I handled the fish (dead and
cold) with a fine wire and quickly agitated it near the viper. The snake had
unsuccessfully pursued a mice a minute ago. Now the viper followed the quick
artificial movement of the fish, caught it and ate it. This viper (the
species prey on small mammals and reptiles) was hungry and stressed.

- Two young vipers (Vipera latastei), also hungry, desperately tried to eat
a thermometer (cold glass; diameter 0.5 cm, length 15 cm) that had been in a
terrarium with lizards for a long time, and obviously smelt like a lizard.
Both animals tried to eat the thermometer at the same time; each one by each
extreme. Fortunately the thermometer was too big for these young vipers.

Smell and also sight are important. Both species seem to prey on cold
(inactive) lizards.
(All animals were feed -with their usual prey- and returned to nature).




José L. Rubio
mncr142@fresno.csic.es