Snakes Form Social Cliques Just Like Humans, Study Suggests
All you have to do is watch Mean Girls to get an idea of how human friendships work.
Whether you’re one of the art freaks or the plastics, we humans form friendships based on shared interests and experiences.
And, though we may think lifelong friendships are a purely human thing, it seems we’re not the only ones.
Snakes are commonly thought of as unsocial and solitary creatures, but it turns out there’s an awful lot more to their relationships with other serpents than we previously considered.
A new study from researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, took 40 young eastern garter snakes, which are native to the Southeast and most of North America, and put them in four separate shelter groups in an enclosure.
Psychologist Noam Miller and his graduate student Morgan Skinner recorded the positions of the snakes twice a day for eight days, and cleared the pen of any odours, before putting them back into the enclosure in different locations.
Keeping track of individual snakes by placing dots on their heads, the research found that the snakes not only sought out social interaction by huddling in groups, they also tended to seek out the same other snakes, forming a kind of reptile clique.
Speaking to Science Magazine, Skinner explained these ‘cliques’ are ‘in some way surprisingly similar to those of mammals, including humans’.
In their paper, which was published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Skinner and Miller explained:
This bias is exacerbated by the fact that in some reptile species social interactions are hidden, due to their secretive nature, and that social communication is often conducted via invisible chemical cues.
In theory, our long and skinny little friends have more in common with us than we might’ve thought.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read
CreditsScience Magazine and 1 other
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology