I learned something new yesterday

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mike h
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I learned something new yesterday

Post by mike h » April 7th, 2014, 5:52 am

I pursued an Eastern Ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) through some thorn bushes to document our first sighting of this species this year. As I was extricating myself from a knot of prickers, I saw something moving by my knees... a tail was wiggling.

The Ribbon Snake had dropped his tail, some 3 feet from where I captured. Him. I wasn't aware they could do this but subsequent research says they can.
http://youtu.be/GF5wZ6j7lNc

I feel badly that I stressed this individual out enough to drop his tail but I'm glad that I learned something. This might explain some of the stub-tailed specimens that I have encountered over the decades.

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mike h
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by mike h » April 7th, 2014, 6:15 am

By the way, it's an 8 second video attached. Don't be afraid. I just don't know how to embed it here.

MCHerper
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by MCHerper » April 7th, 2014, 6:27 am

Very cool observation, thank you for sharing!

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Jeffreyrichard
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by Jeffreyrichard » April 7th, 2014, 5:03 pm

I had the same thing happen to me with a Ribbon in FL a few years ago ... I thought I snapped it off somehow, but now ...

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Gyri
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by Gyri » April 8th, 2014, 9:57 am

mike h wrote:I wasn't aware they could do this but subsequent research says they can
Would you mind sharing your research sources? I would like to read up on this. I always thought ribbonsnakes just had fragile tails that snapped off easily. Are you suggesting they can do this voluntarily?

SteveWinks
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by SteveWinks » April 22nd, 2014, 9:41 am

I can say I had the same thing happen to me last year as well! Maybe it is just ribbon snakes in the New England area?

I am kidding of course but I have never had this occur to me with garters and after it happened I recall looking into it online and did find somewhere that it is documented they are able to do this voluntarily as an escape mechanism. I remember seeing the tail continue wiggling in my hand. It was pretty cool but at the same time I felt bad about it :( I don't know it the tail re-grows or not.

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spinifer
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by spinifer » April 22nd, 2014, 9:46 am

Gyri wrote:
mike h wrote:I wasn't aware they could do this but subsequent research says they can
Would you mind sharing your research sources? I would like to read up on this. I always thought ribbonsnakes just had fragile tails that snapped off easily. Are you suggesting they can do this voluntarily?

me too.

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mike h
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by mike h » April 22nd, 2014, 11:33 am

I'm sorry... I have been away.

Here is a very good article on tail-dropping and the Eastern Ribbon Snake is mentioned.
http://www.ecogecko.co.nz/scritterblog.php

In the "how does tail dropping work" section.

"The Eastern Ribbon snake of Novia Scotia, Canada (Thamnophis sauritus: Colubridae) is one species that will pseudoautotomise in response to a predator gripping the tail, and occasionally in response to being caught by a researcher (Todd and Wassersug report 3 tail drops from 477 captures, so not a lot)."

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spinifer
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by spinifer » April 22nd, 2014, 7:31 pm

Ok, I thought you meant the tail fell off on its own. But that is not possible with pseudoautotomy.

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mike h
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by mike h » April 23rd, 2014, 7:09 am

I wasn't aware that I was anywhere near this guys tail. I found it three feet from where I laid my hand on top of him.

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spinifer
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by spinifer » April 23rd, 2014, 8:14 am

well in pseudoatotomy there are no fracture places, so tissue has to tear, so there has to be some force working against the snake. Maybe you stepped on it?

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mike h
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Re: I learned something new yesterday

Post by mike h » April 23rd, 2014, 11:21 am

I dunno. Probably.

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