Caudal luring in the Neotropical two-striped forest pitviper Bothrops bilineatus smaragdinus Hoge, 1966 in the Western Amazon

Wirven Lima da Fonseca, Andesson de Souza Oliveira, Radraque Rodrigues Correa, Paulo Sergio Bernarde


Caudal luring is the waving of a conspicuous tail tip by a camouflaged snake, which mimics invertebrate larvae to lure prey within striking distance. This behaviour was recorded mainly in juveniles, which feed on ectothermic prey (amphibians, and lizards), but also in some adult snakes of species that continue to feed on ectothermic prey (e.g., Bothrops bilineatus, C. vipera and V. latasti) or feed on birds that can be attracted by caudal luring (B. insularis). Most of the records in literature were performed through provoked encounters, mainly with snakes in captivity, in which prey are offered to the snakes to observe predation behaviour. We report here a number of observations of B. b. smaragdinus using caudal luring for the first time in nature, in a forest in the western Brazilian Amazon. During the limited time search (408 men-hours) and complementary records during the night, 72 observations (meetings and re-encounters) of 32 snakes and 15 during five complementary daytime samplings were performed, totaling 87 records. This study was the one in which most snakes were observed performing caudal luring in their natural habitat, without offering prey (provoked encounters). We conclude from these preliminary data that the snake Bothrops bilineatus smaragdinus often uses this tactic during nocturnal hunting on vegetation in the absence of potential prey regardless of the size of the snake, tail tip color, and height substrate in which it is hunting.

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