SREL Reprint #2781




Do cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) habituate to human confrontations?

Xavier Glaudas

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802

Abstract: The defensive behavior of snakes towards humans has been well documented. Ironically, many of these early studies focused on harmless colubrid species. Knowledge of venomous snake defensive behavior is limited, and further research is necessary to understand how pitvipers react to human confrontations. I performed laboratory tests daily over a period of five days to investigate whether cottonmouths would habituate to handling. Eleven days after the last habituation test, snakes were tested again to see if cottonmouths show a recovery response. Cottonmouths exhibited a significant change in defensive behavior between Day 1 and Day 5 of the experiment. However, they did not significantly revert to their original behavior 11 days later.

SREL Reprint #2781

Glaudas, X. 2004. Do cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) habituate to human confrontations? Southeastern Naturalist 3:129-138.

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