Body temperature fluctuations in free-ranging ...



Title Body temperature fluctuations in free-ranging eastern foxsnakes (Elaphe gloydi) during cold-water swimming
Author(s) C. A. MacKinnon, A. Lawson, E. D. Stevens, R. J. Brooks
Journal Canadian Journal of Zoology / Revue Canadienne De Zoologie
Date 2006
Volume 84
Issue 1
Start page 9
End page 19
Abstract We examined the thermal biology of free-ranging terrestrial eastern foxsnakes (Elaphe gloydi Conant, 1940) that were voluntarily swimming in cold water during spring, in Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada. Using temperature-sensitive radiotelemetry, we recorded body temperatures of foxsnakes during 12 cold-water swims, and subsequent warming on shore. During these swims, water temperatures were from 11 to 22 degrees C and distances of 85-1330 m were travelled. Snakes that were in cold water long enough equilibrated with water temperature and did not maintain a body temperature above ambient. The largest observed drop in body temperature was 22.6 degrees C (over 11 min) and the largest increase was 23 degrees C (over 66 min). Such large, rapid temperature fluctuations have not previously been reported in detail from snakes in the field. Twice as many telemetry observations as expected occurred between 1200 and 1400, suggesting that snakes chose to swim midday. Additionally, our results suggest that foxsnakes bask to raise their body temperature prior to swimming in cold water. We compared swimming speed and the coefficient of temperature change among foxsnakes and other snake species. Swimming speed was positively correlated with water temperature, similar to other findings. We found no clear trend between mass and the coefficients of cooling and warming; however, snakes cooled in water 2.8-8.6 times faster than they warmed in air.
DOI 10.1139/Z05-168

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