Snakes are generally considered to be solitary and cold creatures. However, a new study suggests that the relationship between them may, in fact, be more complex than previously thought.
According to the website IFLScience, scientists at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, placed 40 snakes of the species Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis in a space with four shelters separated into groups of 10.
For eight days, the team, whose study was published, in April, in the scientific journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, observed the behavior of these snakes, marked with colored dots. Twice a day, the positions of the snakes were recorded, the place was cleaned and the reptiles placed again in different places.
In addition to the fact that snakes seem to actively seek social interaction, grouped in groups of three to eight, they also routinely met with the same individuals.
To better understand this behavior, scientists also tested the snakes' personalities by assessing their “boldness”. Both individually and in groups, the team recorded the length of time that snakes ventured outside their safe shelters.
Some explored the area further, while others stayed in their shelter. These differences ended up impacting the way they interacted with each other, although even the most daring snakes succumbed a little to the so-called “group mentality” when grouped, spending about 94% of the time in their safe zones.
Although this study was carried out in the laboratory, the authors suspect that this social behavior also occurs in its natural habitat. Especially because it is probably advantageous: they can protect themselves from other prey and help retain heat and moisture.