Reptilian endothermy: a field study of thermoregulation by brooding diamond pythons

D. J. Slip, R. Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Miniature temperature‐sensitive radiotransmitters were surgically implanted into free‐ranging adult diamond pythons (Morelia s. spilota), which are medium‐sized boid snakes of south‐eastern Australia. Four female pythons oviposited during the study, and constructed incubation mounds. These apparently provided excellent insulation, and the snakes maintained high (approx. 31 C) and relatively constant body temperatures throughout the two‐month incubation period. They apparently maintained these temperatures primarily by endogenous heat production (shivering thermogenesis), but also basked briefly on most mornings. 

Brooding females maintained a body temperature differential above ambient of about 9C, occasionally up to 13C; their temperatures were significantly higher and less variable than those of non‐brooding females or males. The energetic cost of brooding must be high, but these costs may be outweighed by the benefits of rapid embryonic development and high embryonic survivorship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of zoology
Volume216
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1988
Externally publishedYes

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