Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Snakes Are Clumsy, Just Like Us!

Like all animals, snakes are not perfect. They make mistakes and sometimes misjudge their abilities. Even though you would assume snakes would be clumsy all the time because they are limbless, they normally are quite graceful. They have extremely well-developed musculature and scales that allow them to move in various ways. In fact, they can do almost anything a four-limbed animal can do, using only their tube-shaped body. 

For instance, they can climb trees

 hold their food in place while eating,

and even soar through the air.

However, every once in a while, they mess up. After many years of watching snakes in the wild, I've seen some pretty funny snake mistakes. Here are a few of my stories from the field:

1) If you've ever hiked the California foothills in late summer, you may have accidentally fallen down a steep hill from trying to walk on extremely slippery dried out grass. Well, I've also seen a snake make this same mistake - accidentally sliding all the way down a dry grassy hill it was trying to traverse. Poor little girl was dazed and confused after her clumsy fall.

2) Snakes eat pretty big meals which sometimes make it hard for them to move. This past summer we recorded a snake trying to relocate sites after having consumed an adult ground squirrel. This squirrel was roughly half the total body mass of the snake - that's one BIG meal. After consuming the squirrel, the snake attempted to exit a log, but got stuck in the exit hole by his huge food bulge. After a couple seconds of trying to squeeze through, he finally realized that he needed a new exit strategy. Check out the video of his snake mistake below!

3) A couple years back, we captured footage of a snake making a huge mistake while attempting to strike a ground squirrel pup. This snake lunged forward during the attack, but missed the pup, and instead fell down a hill. Needless to say, we felt bad for the poor guy. He lost a tasty meal and got injured in the process. Check out the video on our lab channel below!


This post just goes to show you that we are all subject to error, and that we should take our mistakes with stride! What are some animal mistakes you've seen? 

BTW, Dan Deacon is a great artist who encourages audience participation at his shows and he also has a song called Snake Mistakes. Check it out here.

Happy early Thanksgiving to you all!


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