Prey preference and diet of neonate Eastern Massasaugas (Sistrurus c. catenatus)

Donald B. Shepard, Christopher A Phillips, Michael Joseph Dreslik, Benjamin C. Jellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Because prey acquisition in young organisms often has profound effects later in life, understanding the foraging ecology of early age classes is important. We examined diet and prey preference of neonate Eastern Massasaugas (Sistrurus c. catenatus) at Carlyle Lake, Clinton County, Illinois. Prey recovered from free-ranging neonates consisted primarily of southern short-tailed shrews (Blarina carolinensis). In feeding trials, neonates demonstrated a preference for snake prey, disinterest in anuran and insect prey and indifference toward mammal prey. Because of gape limitations, neonates may have difficulty ingesting small mammals, but snakes are comparably easier to ingest and are the most common prey item of young S. c. catenalus in other parts of their range. Blarina carolinensis has not been reported previously from the diet of S. c. catenatus as their ranges overlap only in southwestern Illinois. Blarina carolinensis is considerably smaller than most mammals preyed upon by older age classes and would be easier for neonates to ingest. Thus, at Carlyle Lake, snakes may not be as important a prey resource for neonate massasaugas as in other parts of their range due to the availability of B. carolinensis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-368
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Volume152
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2004

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Sistrurus
prey preference
neonate
neonates
Blarina
diet
snake
snakes
age class
age structure
gape limitation
mammal
mammals
lakes
shrews
lake
small mammal
small mammals
foraging
insect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Prey preference and diet of neonate Eastern Massasaugas (Sistrurus c. catenatus). / Shepard, Donald B.; Phillips, Christopher A; Dreslik, Michael Joseph; Jellen, Benjamin C.

In: American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 152, No. 2, 10.2004, p. 360-368.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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