ABSTRACT

Prey-handling behavior serves as an important link between the processes of prey capture, transport, and swallowing. Snakes, lacking limbs, have developed a series of complex behaviors for the purposes of subjugating and handling their food. Using captive individuals of the semiarboreal Boa constrictor, we describe for the first time a set of behaviors unique to handling dead, endothermic prey in an arboreal context. Faced with the challenges of having to support the body weight of both themselves and their prey, Boa Constrictors create a series of loops that allow the body of the snake to support the prey item while also allowing for intraoral transport and swallowing. These loops can be adjusted and repositioned during transport, positioning the prey so that the pull of gravity is in line with swallowing.

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