Effects of food supplementation on the physiological ecology of female western diamond-backed rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox)

  • Published source details Taylor E.N, Malawy M.A., Browning D.M., Lemar S.V. & DeNardo D.F. (2005) Effects of food supplementation on the physiological ecology of female western diamond-backed rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox). Oecologia, 144, 206-213.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Provide supplementary food or water

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Provide supplementary food or water

    A randomized, controlled study in 2002–2003 in one desert site in Arizona, USA (Taylor et al. 2005) found that providing supplementary food for Western diamond-backed rattlesnakes Crotalus atrox resulted in more snakes giving birth and faster growth compared to unfed snakes. More fed snakes reproduced over the 19-month period (7 of 9 snakes; 5 young/litter) than did unfed snakes (1 of 8 snakes; produced 2 young). Fed snakes grew faster than unfed snakes (fed: 0.4 cm/month and 4 cm total growth; unfed: 0.1 cm/month and 1 cm total growth) and gained more mass (fed: 21 g/month; unfed 1 g/month). In general, body condition of fed and unfed snakes was similar, though after giving birth, fed snakes had better body condition (see paper for details). Four measures of above ground activity and home range size were similar for fed and unfed snakes (see paper for details). In March 2002, seventeen wild female snakes were implanted with radio transmitters and released back into the wild. Nine were selected to received supplementary feeding, and eight received no additional food. Fed snakes were offered thawed rodents 1–4 times/week. Snakes were located 1–5 times/week during the active seasons (March–November) and 1–2 times/month during winter (November–March).

    (Summarised by: William Morgan)

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