Thesis Title

Food Habits, Growth, Conversion Efficiency and Response to Prey Odors of the Copperhead, Agkistrodon Contortrix

Date of Graduation

Summer 1988

Degree

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Robert Wilkinson

Subject Categories

Biology

Abstract

Food habits, conversion efficiency, and tongue flick rate (TFR) during exposure to food odors were investigated during this study. Sixty-one adult copperheads were examined for prey remains and yielded 31 prey items of which 50% were small mammals. Captive neonates were observed to feed only on small skinks, various small colubrid snakes, and plethodontid salamanders. Growth rate was similar for all snakes with average values of 2.6 mm/wk for adults and 2.1 mm/wk for juveniles. Rate of weight gain was strongly dependent on body weight with adults averaging 2.94 g/wk and juveniles 0.69 g/wk. Values for conversion efficiency averaged 25.4% for adults and 25.9% for juveniles. Copperheads explored a clean, novel environment with a similar TFR to an environment containing prey odors. This suggests that stimuli other than prey odors are necessary to stimulate the vomeronasal system of copperheads.

Copyright

© Brian D Greene

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