Spatial ecology of hatchling water pythons (Liasis fuscus) in tropical Australia

Lgia Pizzatto*, Thomas Madsen, Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Young snakes are rarely seen in the field and little is known about their habits, mostly because they are too small for radio-telemetry (the primary method for studying snake spatial ecology). However, the offspring of some larger species can be fitted with transmitters and we investigated the spatial ecology and habitat use of ten hatchling water pythons (Liasis fuscus: Pythonidae) in the floodplain of the Adelaide River, tropical Australia. Patterns of habitat use in the late wet season and during the dry season were similar to those of adults tracked in the same vicinity in an earlier study. Soon after release the young snakes moved to the floodplain, avoiding pasture areas. Diurnal refuge sites were typically in the base of grass clumps or below the soil surface, especially in sites with thick vegetation and deep, wide soil cracks. Adult snakes are more sedentary but move longer absolute distances (mean ± SE = 252 ± 50 m wk-1) than hatchlings (66.3 ± 41 m wk-1). However, hatchling snakes moved longer distances relative to body size (84.4 ± 1.1 body lengths wk-1) than did the previously studied adults (66.0 ± 1.1 body lengths wk-1). Mean and minimum body temperatures of the hatchlings were correlated with mean and minimum air temperatures, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • habitat
  • habitat selection
  • hatchling
  • movements
  • snake
  • thermoregulation

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