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Some thoughts on hatchling behavior...

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Posted by: Aaron at Thu Sep 15 00:22:44 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Aaron ]  
   

... and feeding habits.

I suspect the main reason hatchling alterna are so finicky is because in the wild they look for a safe place to brumate before they "think" about feeding.

It makes sense to think about what can kill a hatchling the quickest. Aside from predation, temperature can kill in a matter of hours, dehydration can kill in a matter of days and starvation can take weeks to months to kill.

So I think the hatchlings' first order of business is to find a place that has proper temperature range. Heat is very easy to find, it's pretty much anywhere on the surface. Harder to find is a place that's safe from overheating, freezing and flooding. Actually such places are probably not very hard to find in their natural limestone and volcanic rock habitat but unless you're lucky enough to have a cellar they are much harder to duplicate in captivity.

I think a common mistake is to think that since we are offering them heat they should eat. But heat is comparatively easy to find, at least during the hatchlings first month or two of life. I think what the hatchlings are really looking for is a place that constantly stays within 40 to 55 degrees farenhieght, with good drainage to prevent flooding, that's dry to the touch yet humid in the air. Such a place would also likely be completely dark since in nature it would have to be underground below the frost line.

I think once a hatchling locates such a place it will then begin to seek out food and suitable sites in which to digest that food, "knowing" that it can retreat to the cold, dry area and conserve energy as soon as it's food is digested. Also "knowing" that if an early storm or cold front moves in it won't be caught in a freeze and won't drown underground.

A snakes #1 survival tool is quite possibly it's ability to lower it's metabolism through temperature selection. Since they have no learning experience they cannot concieve of the notion that the heat tape is going to stay on all year or that the water bowl is going to be refilled every few days. Especially as hatchlings when they have only instinct to go on. I think as they get older some of them can "learn" that they live in a really good spot that always has heat, food and water. Ok now I'm just rambling. Anybody else think this is a good theory?




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