A Comparison of the Arboreal Behavior of Old World (Coelognathus), New World (Pantherophis & Scotophis), and Hybrid (Pantherophis + Scotophis, Pituophis + Scotophis) Colubrid Snakes

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological and Environmental Sciences

Date of Award

Spring 2014


A total of 24 Colubrid snakes were observed for their arboreal behavior and hide box selection. These snakes had been allocated into six different testing groups, group 1 consisting of four yearling corn snake/rat snake hybrids (Pantherophis + Scotophis), group 2 consisting of four pine snake/rat snake hybrids (Pituophis + Scotophis), group 3 consisting of four second generation intergrade rat snakes (50% Scotophis obsolete, 37.5% S. alleghaniensis, 12.5% S. spiloides), group 4 consisting of four yearling Okeetee corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus), group 5 consisting of four Texas rat snakes (Scotophis obsoleta), and group 6 consisting of four trinket snakes (Coelognathus helena helena). All snakes were captive born and all groups except group 5 consisted of siblings. All of these snakes were fed a consistent diet of lab mice on a weekly or biweekly basis. Snake groups were placed in testing tanks with two identical hide box options in different elevations within the tank, as similarly described by Tynes and Lyman-Henley, 2011. Paper towels were used as the cage substrate and a water dish was provided. Animal feeding was synchronized and one round of data collection occurred for each group. Each round consisted of 5 days of data collection with tanks being checked five times daily. The arboreal behaviors and hide box selections were documented and differences between groups and sexes were analyzed. Chi-square results show arboreal preference for groups 1,2,3,6, a terrestrial preference for group 4 and no distinct preference for group 5 [X2 (df = 1, n = 4) = 0.640, p ≤ 0.05]. One way ANOVA and Tukey HSD tests indicate that group 1 and group 2 had a significantly higher selection of the arboreal locations than group 4 at the 0.05 level of significance. Females of groups 1, 2, 3, and 4 were more arboreal than the males within their respective groups, while males in groups 5 and 6 were more arboreal than their female counterparts.


Lani Lyman-Henley

Subject Categories

Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Life Sciences