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Re: storing a food source

On Thu, Sep 17th, 2009 at 4:00 AM, Augusto Haro <augustoharo@gmail.com> wrote:

> Can it be that some reptiles are unlikely to store fat? It seems that
> storing fat in snakes may hinder locomotion more than in other
> reptiles. Perhaps also in flying birds.

The 'giant' tiger snakes that live on remote islands in Bass Strait to the 
south of the Australian 
mainland (notably Chappell Island) certainly have to store fat, since their 
main source of food as 
adults (mutton bird hatchlings) are only available for a couple of months a 
year. They're unable to 
eat the eggs themselves, and the chicks grow so fast that they quickly grow too 
big even for these 
big tiger snakes to swallow, so they only have a small window of opportunity in 
which to eat any 
particular hatchling. They then have to live off their stored fat for most of 
the year until the birds 
return to nest again.

These tiger snakes are very good at judging what they can and can't swallow. If 
they enter a 
burrow with only adults, or older chicks, they'll cuddle up to the birds for 
warmth rather than try to 
harm them. The birds themselves don't seem to be alarmed by the presence of a 
snake either - 
provided there isn't a young hatchling of swallowing size present. I suppose 
they really can't do 
much to evict a 7-foot tiger snake anyway.



Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist                Australian Dinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia               http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj