Although the spatial ecology of adult vipers has been extensively studied, little is known regarding juvenile age classes. The increased availability of small externally attached transmitters now allows for more detailed study of snakes from younger age classes. The goal of our study was to determine habitat preferences, movement patterns, and mortality rates in neonate Eastern Massasaugas (Sisturus catenatus). From 2009 - 2011 we captured gravid female Eastern Massasaugas and allowed them to give birth in captivity. Following their post-birth ecdysis, we externally attached 1 gram radio transmitters to 76 neonates weighing at least 10 grams. To determine habitat preferences and movement patterns, neonates were located at least every other day and a GPS location and standardized set of habitat characteristics were taken at each unique location. We recorded all observed mortality in the field and determined cause of death when possible. To determine winter mortality we encircled hibernation burrows with a wire mesh cage to ensure recapture of neonates the following spring. We found that neonate home ranges were variable in size, most neonates moved randomly, and mortality rates were higher than expected.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||2013 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 10-15 July, 2013 Albuquerque, New Mexico|
|State||Published - 2013|