Publication Details

Brown, G., Shine, R. & Madsen, T. R. (2005). Spatial ecology of slatey-grey snakes (Stegonotus cucullatus, Colubridae) on a tropical Australian floodplain. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 21 605-612. Copyright 2005 Cambridge University Press.


The extent, sequence, synchrony and correlates of diel displacements by animals can provide powerful insights into the ecological and social factors that shape an organism's day-to-day activities, but detailed data on spatial ecology are available for very few tropical taxa. Radiotelemetric monitoring of 25 slatey-grey snakes (Stegonotus cucullatus) on a floodplain in the Australian wet-dry tropics for periods of 40 to 355 d (mean=195 d, 136 locations per snake) provided extensive information on habitat use, movement patterns and home range size of these large slender-bodied colubrids. All radio-tracked animals were nocturnal, sheltering by day in soil cracks and beneath tree roots and debris. Snakes did not appear to move between 61% of successive locations and timing of movements was not synchronized among snakes. Most displacements were small (<50m), with males moving further and more often than did females. However, nesting females made occasional long-distance movements, travelling 100–400m to forested areas to oviposit but then returning to their usual home ranges. Snakes of both sexes moved further and more often during the wet-season than the dry-season. Snakes typically moved on a few successive nights then remained sedentary for the next few days, apparently reflecting cessation of activity as soon as a meal was obtained. Home ranges were small (2.9–7.4 ha) and most snakes remained in the same area throughout the year, providing a strong contrast in this respect to the large and seasonally dynamic home ranges of sympatric acrochordid and pythonid snakes.



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