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Monday, December 19, 2011

Are snakes social? YES! Do snakes live in groups? SOMETIMES! Are these groups of snakes extended families? Help us find out!

As a reader of this blog, you already know that rattlesnakes are quite gregarious. Their social lives are complex; they recognize and preferentially associate with their siblings, care for their kids, and even help care for their neighbor’s kids. But the big question remains unanswered.

Many of us who monitor rattlesnake dens have speculated that they are composed of closely related individuals. Our goal is to explore this idea by examining relatedness with microsatellite DNA markers. With your help, we will find out if dens really are a rattlesnake family reunion. Our research might reveal a previously undocumented, complex social system in snakes and promote snake conservation by highlighting some very human-like behaviors.

You know you're curious about the relatedness of the snakes you've been reading about here! Check out our project on RocketHub.

And spread the word! This can be just as helpful as a financial contribution.


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