Snakes Can Hunt In Groups, Study Finds

Posted: May 28 2017, 2:18am CDT | by , Updated: May 28 2017, 2:25am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Snakes can Hunt in Groups, Study Finds
Cuban boa, Credit: Vladimir Dinets

Snakes are perceived to be lone hunters but they can work as a pack

Snake are often seen alone and are perceived to be solitary hunters. But a new study says that some species of snakes hunt in packs and this coordinated hunting increase their chances of catching prey.

Researchers from University of Tennessee in Knoxville have found that Cuban boa, the island’s largest native predator, work together to hunt bats in the caves. Cuban boas have a distinctive technique of hunting their prey. They hang themselves from the ceilings of caves entrance at dawn and dust when bats either enter or leave the cave and grab them in the midair.

Researchers observed if more boas are present in the cave, they position themselves in such a way that a kind of wall forms across the entrance, making it virtually impossible for the bat to avoid passing boas. This technique worked almost every time and it also took them shorter amount of time to capture a prey. But if there was only one boa, it sometimes failed to get a meal.

This the first documented case of snakes involved in "coordinated hunting.” They have been instances when snakes were observed hunting in packs but these sightings have never been proven.

“It is possible that coordinated hunting is not uncommon among snakes, but it will take a lot of very patient field research to find out.” Vladimir Dinets, a professor of psychology at UT, who observed the unique behavior in Cuban boas said in a statement.

During the eight-day long study, Dinets witnessed 16 different hunting events. As these bat caves are remote and isolated, the coordinated efforts of these boas may not be able to catch the eye of researchers before. Overall, there are just 3,650 snake species known to have been observed hunting in the wild, which makes it difficult for researchers to understand snakes diverse hunting tactics.

"I suspect that if their numbers in a cave fall, they can't hunt in groups anymore and might die out even if some of them don't get caught by hunters," said Dinets. "A few of these caves are in national parks, but there's a lot of poaching everywhere."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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