When multiple species of snake live in the same habitat, how do they interact? Do they communicate with each other? At the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve where human presence is greatly reduced, snake diversity is high and many species occur at high population densities (see species accounts one and two). Our cameras have captured a few rattlesnakes investigating other species of snake. On June 22, Mace Windu, a male Northern Pacific rattlesnake interacted with a king snake and a gopher snake (at separate times). Below are recordings of these interactions (you may want to watch on YouTube to view better video quality).
A king snake bumps into Mace while slithering through the grass. Mace is sitting in ambush in the shadow as the king snake moves through the grass. The king snake retracts its head after it realizes that a rattlesnake is there. It quickly flees and Mace extends his head, as if curious.
A couple of hours later, a gopher snake runs into Mace. The camera is not directly pointed at Mace, but he is partially visible resting in the shade of a rock. A gopher snake moves toward Mace and stops once it realizes that a rattlesnake is there. It quickly takes off, and Mace extends his head and body toward the gopher snake. Is Mace just curious or is he communicating with the gopher snake?
These recordings make me curious about snake-snake interactions:
How often do different species of snake interact, and when they do, what are the nature of these interactions?
Can different species of snake communicate with each other?
King snakes are predators of young rattlesnakes, but how do they interact with adults like Mace?
At BORR, many species of snake live in the same habitat and must interact in some way. Our cameras have been catching glimpses of these interesting snake-snake interactions so hopefully with more video footage we can learn more about them!