A Scientist Observed Boa Snakes As They Attacked Together


A researcher noted that Cuban boa snakes are capable of carrying out coordinated attacks.

A scientist noted an unusual and quite unexpected occurrence as he was guiding a watching tour, which prompted him to take up research on the matter. According to his results, Cuban boa snakes not only attack together, but they also seem to be capable of coordinating such attacks and act almost as a “pack”.

A paper with the study results is available in the journal Animal Behaviour and Cognition.

Boa Snakes Act Together when Preying On Bats

Vladimir Dinets, part of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was in the Desembarco del Granma National Park in Cuba when he noted an unusual behavior in the local boa snakes.

These were gathered at the entrance of a cave, and seemingly on the look-out. Interested by this action, he took to observing the species and recording their actions. After eight days of recordings, Dinets reached quite a surprising conclusion.

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The analyzed Cuban boa snakes were resting at the entrance of a cave which held Jamaican fruit bat colonies. A nocturnal species, these rest throughout the day in the adjacent chambers of sinkhole caves. Then, as twilight starts falling, they fly out looking for food, and possibly in the fangs of an awaiting predator.

Dinets states that, after spending the day in the vicinity of the cave entrance, some of the observed boa snakes slithered into its passageways as the light started dimming. There, they swung their bodies and started dangling from the cave ceiling. This way, as the bats flew past them, they could quickly snatch them up mid-flight.

The same ritual was followed as day was about to break, and the bats returned to their cave home. Only, this time, different snakes set up to eat and in different locations. Dinets recorded the snakes’ position throughout each of the possible feeding times. According to him, these never repeated, which seems to indicate that the boas did not just choose the same or a preferred spot.

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Instead, they changed and coordinated their locations so that all involved could make the most of their meal.

“There is an old dogma stating that reptiles are mostly solitary and stupid. My finding is just one of many recent discoveries challenging it,” states Dinets.

Still, Dinets points out the need for more research on the matter, which should come with a “lot of patience”. Also, he concluded that although the boa snakes exhibited a “pack” like attack, they showed no sign of the communication required by such an appellative.

Image Source: Flickr

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