Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-11-2019

Document Type



Carothers, A. 2019. Feeding Methods for Headstarting in Juvenile Constricting Colubrid Snakes. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Allison Carothers 2019.


To ensure natural biodiversity, conservation biologists have used species augmentation of a population by captive reproduction and headstarting. This augmentation has been shown to be useful in snakes in the last decade because many snake species have little or no parental care, therefore prey availability during captive growth is determined by the conservation biologist. Due to high juvenile mortality in many species of snakes, it is important to know how to propagate these snakes for headstarting. The need for the conservation of species like Pituophis catenifer and Pantherophis obsoletus is important because these species are crucial for a stable ecosystem. This study investigated how two different captive feeding methods, feeding live or frozen-thawed mice, affects the overall health and weight gain of bull snakes and black rat snakes in their first year. In both the bull snake and black rat snake groups, there was no significant difference in efficiency of weight gain between the group fed live mice and the group fed frozen thawed mice. Additionally, the bull snakes fed frozen-thawed mice showed no constriction or tail rattling behavior.