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USA. What connects humans and rattlesnakes? The joy of being around your species

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Rattlesnakes, like humans, like to be around members of their species. Such conclusions were reached by scientists from California’s Loma Linda University. This finding challenges previous views that these snakes are solitary hunters with little social behavior.

Research conducted by PhD student Chelsea Martin, led by Professor William Hayes of Loma Linda University in California, showed that rattlesnakes feel less stress when they are with members of their species than when they are alone. An article on the subject appeared this week in the journal Frontiers in Ethology.

The idea for the study came to Hayes during his time off work. Scientist saves snakes from appearing in Southern California homes. Hayes usually places the captured reptile in a bucket and then releases it back into the wild. During this short journey, the creature usually rattles furiously. The researcher noticed that when two or more snakes were in a bucket, the rattling usually subsided. This typically social behavior intrigued Hayes, so he decided to investigate.

How was the research?

Chelsea Martin conducted lab research on the species Crotalus helleri. The PhD student monitored the creatures under stressful conditions. The researcher observed that the heart rate of the reptiles was lower when they were together.

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“We just attached electrodes to the snake’s body, placed one above and below the heart, and then further down the body. We used medical tape to attach them to the hoses and were able to detect a pulse. So we decided to use the heart rate as a measure of short-term stress in these animals,” explained Chelsea Martin of Loma Linda University. – Our discovery suggests that we are not so different from snakes. They are doing something that we are also doing.

Crotalus helleri belongs to the subfamily of rattlesnakes (Crotalinae), poisonous snakes from the viper family (Viperidae). These reptiles are found in southwestern California and south to Baja California in Mexico.


Main photo source: Reuters

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