Honors Program


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Giese, Chase. The Effect of Agkistrodon Contortrix and Crotalus Horridus Venom Toxicity on Strike Locations with Live Prey. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2021


Copyright Chase Giese 2021.


This paper aims to uncover if there is a significant difference in the strike location of snake species that have different values of LD50% venom. It is thought that most snakes strike their prey in the anterior (head) area in order for their venom to work quicker in killing them. Venom toxicity is measured by its LD50% value, which is the amount of venom, in mg/kg, to kill 50% of a test population. The Copperhead has an LD50% value of 10.9 mg/kg, and the Timber Rattlesnake has an LD50% value of 1.64 mg/kg. The hypothesis was that if venom toxicity had an impact on strike location, then the Copperhead species would strike at a higher rate towards the anterior area of their prey compared to the Timber Rattlesnake. Three Copperheads and Three Timber Rattlesnakes were used in the study. Strike location data was collected over the course of a seven-week period. The snakes were placed into an eight-foot wide by three-foot deep arena filled with materials to simulate their natural habitat. The snakes were fed rats or mice depending on their size, and strikes were recorded on an iPhone XR and a GoPro. Strikes were designated as either on the anterior or posterior of the prey, and a t-test was conducted to determine if there was a significant difference present. A t-test was conducted on the number of strikes on the anterior of prey of both the Timber Rattlesnake and the Copperhead, as well as the total number of strikes on the anterior vs. the total number of strikes on the posterior. It was determined that there was not a significant difference in any of the data meaning that there is not a clear connection between strike location and venom toxicity in Timber Rattlesnakes and Copperheads.