U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Herpetological Review 49(1): 139


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Snakes have been observed as recipients of agonistic, non-predatory attacks by individuals from other taxa towards a presumed enemy (e.g., Engeman et al. 2009. Herpetol. Rev. 40:84–85; Kaiser et. al. 2013. Herpetol. Rev. 44:329). Mobbing, an attack involving multiple individuals, has been observed against many taxa of vertebrate predators (e.g., Altmann 1956. Condor 58:241–253; Owings and Coss 1977. Behaviour 62:50–69). Snakes appear to be frequent targets for this behavior and a variety of taxa have been documented to mob snakes (e.g., Owings and Coss 1976, op. cit.). Birds, probably more than any other taxa, have been commonly observed to mob snakes (e.g., Guthrie 1932. Wilson Bull. 44:88–113; Curio et al. 1978. Science 202:899–901), with mobbing sometimes simultaneously involving multiple bird species in the attack (e.g., Sieving et al. 2004. Auk 121:738–751; Suzuki 2016. J. Ethol. 34:79–84). Mobbing behavior can serve a variety of defensive purposes such as avoiding predation, drawing attention to the potential predator from others, defending a nest or young, and transmitting enemy recognition to others (e.g., Curio et al., op. cit.).

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