Spatial ecology of slatey-grey snakes (Stegonotus cucullatus, Colubridae) on a tropical Australian floodplain

Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine*, Thomas Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The extent, sequence, synchrony and correlates of diel displacements by animals can provide powerful insights into the ecological and social factors that shape an organism's day-to-day activities, but detailed data on spatial ecology are available for very few tropical taxa. Radiotelemetric monitoring of 25 slatey-grey snakes (Stegonotus cucullatus) on a floodplain in the Australian wet-dry tropics for periods of 40 to 355 d (mean=195 d, 136 locations per snake) provided extensive information on habitat use, movement patterns and home range size of these large slender-bodied colubrids. All radio-tracked animals were nocturnal, sheltering by day in soil cracks and beneath tree roots and debris. Snakes did not appear to move between 61% of successive locations and timing of movements was not synchronized among snakes. Most displacements were small (<50m), with males moving further and more often than did females. However, nesting females made occasional long-distance movements, travelling 100-400m to forested areas to oviposit but then returning to their usual home ranges. Snakes of both sexes moved further and more often during the wet-season than the dry-season. Snakes typically moved on a few successive nights then remained sedentary for the next few days, apparently reflecting cessation of activity as soon as a meal was obtained. Home ranges were small (2.9-7.4 ha) and most snakes remained in the same area throughout the year, providing a strong contrast in this respect to the large and seasonally dynamic home ranges of sympatric acrochordid and pythonid snakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-612
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity
  • Home range
  • Movements
  • Radiotelemetry
  • Reptile


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