Temperature relationships and movements of snakes (Elaphe obsoleta, Coluber constrictor) in a cave hibernaculum

  • Sexton O
  • Hunt S
  • 32

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Abstract

A cave hibernaculum in western Missouri, USA, was used by E. obsoleta and C. constrictor. Thermal characteristics of the hibernaculum were recorded over 4 hibernation seasons. Air and surface temperatures near the entry of the hibernaculum were higher than at the rear of the den during early fall and spring but the thermal gradient was reversed in winter. Locations of snakes were correlated with these thermal clines. Data support the hypothesis that entry into and exist from dens by snakes are dependent on reversals in the thermal gradient between surface and subsurface.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Abiotic factors
  • Behaviour
  • Chordates
  • Habitat
  • Land zones
  • Nearctic region
  • North America
  • Physical factors
  • Reptiles
  • Subterranean habitat
  • USA
  • Vertebrates

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Authors

  • O J Sexton

  • S R Hunt

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