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Body temperature variations of the Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni) in a longleaf pine ecosystemAuthor(s): John G. Himes; Laurence M. Hardy; D. Craig Rudolph; Shirley J. Burgdorf
Source: Herpetological Natural History. 9(2): 117-126
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionThe thermal ecology of the Louisiana pine snake, Pituophis ruthveni, was studied from 1993-97 in Louisiana and Texas. All snakes were implanted with temperature-sensitive radiotransmitters. Temperatures were recorded from snakes located above ground and underground and were compared between size and sex classes (juveniles, adult males, adult females). Associated air and substrate temperatures were also recorded. Collectively, body temperatures of snakes were lowest during winter (1 1.4°C), increased during spring (22.3°C), peaked during summer (27.7°C), and decreased during autumn (22.7°C). Seasonal body temperatures were most similar between juveniles and adult males, primarily because adult females had higher body temperatures during summer. During spring and autumn, snake, air, and substrate temperatures were generally 34°C higher above-ground than underground. Temperatures of snakes of all size and sex classes increased from morning through evening and most closely approximated the air and substrate temperatures at 1800 h and 1900 h, when snakes were located predominantly underground. Temperatures of juveniles and adult males showed no consistent relationship to air or substrate temperatures from 0700-1700 h. However, temperatures of adult females were significantly lower than air temperature from 1000-1600 h. Temperatures of juveniles and adult males were significantly higher above ground than underground from 1100-1400 h and 1100-1700 h, respectively, with no consistent relationship between hourly above-ground and underground temperatures of adult females. Overall, temperature patterns of i9 ruthveni and P. catenifer deserticola appear to be similar, except that P. c. deserticola maintains higher temperatures in the spring than does P. ruthveni.
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CitationHimes, John G.; Hardy, Laurence M.; Rudolph, D. Craig; Burgdorf, Shirley J. 2006. Body temperature variations of the Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni) in a longleaf pine ecosystem. Herpetological Natural History. 9(2): 117-126.
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