Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clark Lab YouTube Channel Up and Running!

Our research relies heavily on wireless network security cameras, which we use to record natural animal behaviors. This makes our study unique in that we have hours and hours of video footage of snake behaviors without the interference of human presence. I like to view our work as peering into a short segment of the animal's life which would be impossible to observe otherwise. We have started a lab YouTube channel to propagate our remarkable findings. Below are some examples:

Our cameras are especially useful in capturing rarely observed strikes and our recordings have revealed that snakes in the wild are not as successful at striking prey as they appear to be in the lab. Wild rodents (unlike lab rats) are actually very good at dodging strikes in a split second, foiling snake hunting attempts. Thus, rattlesnakes may be very judicious with their strikes because missing could be costly to the snake (the snake is revealing itself to predators and other prey) See the video below. 

Normally rattlesnakes strike prey and release to prevent self-injury from the struggling prey. This is why venom is handy--it kills the prey, allowing the rattlesnake to release the prey and preventing further injury to the snake. Prey usually flee after being struck, and succumb to the venom a distance away from the snake. At this point, the snake will leave its ambush position to go find its meal. Our recordings have revealed, however, that rattlesnakes do not always strike and release. Especially with mice-prey, snakes strike and hold onto the rodent, and then injest it right away. Check out the video below:

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