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Snakes In A Cave

May 31, 2017

Snakes cooperate to snag bats on the wing.


Cuban Boa Eduard Horak CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikipedia

Cuban boa. (Eduard Horak/CC BY-SA 3.0, cropped, via wikipedia)


Snakes in a cave. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Several years ago, scientists reported on some Cuban boa snakes that specialize in bat-hunting. The snakes hang from cave walls and ceilings and snag bats on the wing. Now, in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville zoologist Vladimir Dinets reports that the reptiles work in small teams, forming a bat-catching curtain of snakes.

VLADIMIR DINETS (University of Tennessee, Knoxville):

They kind of make a fence across the cave entrance so the bats have nowhere to go and they have to fly very close to the snakes and snakes can catch them more easily.


In fact, while bats could evade a single dangling snake, when there were three of them the bats sometimes bumped into them on their way through. As a result, snakes that worked together nearly always caught bats. And since there are many bats and the snakes can eat just one bat each, it’s more fruitful to cooperate than to compete. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon