Cuban Boas Practice Coordinated Hunting

Cuban boa

Cuban boas hunt in groups for a more effective prey-catching

A recent study published in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition discovered an interesting behavior exhibited by Cuban boas. Snakes are not particularly known for their social traits, but it seems that they might actually engage in coordinated hunting practices.

The observations show that Cuban boas do not go hunting on their own, but gather in groups before going after their prey. These findings challenge the previous notions we had on the social behavior exhibited by reptiles, highlighting the fact that snakes are not as solitary as we thought.

Observing the hunting behavior of Cuban boas

Researchers spent eight days observing nine Cuban boas which lived in a cave situated in Desembarco del Granma National Park, Cuba. Apart from the boas, the cave was also inhabited by bats. They looked at the hunting patterns of the snakes, both during night hunts after the sunset and day hunts immediately before dawn.

Scientists noticed how, instead of working individually, the Cuban boas started performing coordinated movements and blocked the entrance just when the bats were preparing to fly out. Therefore, they had higher chances of catching prey. If they had hunted alone, they would have been less effective in securing their meals.

The snakes gathered around 10 and 30 minutes before the bats went on their night flights, and between 20 minutes and one hour before the prey returned to the cave before dawn. They always formed group of three, and chose similar spots to the previous group.

Snakes exhibit a social behavior

When trying to explain this behavior, researchers claimed that these Cuban boas might have similar preferences in terms of hunting places. However, no snake chose the same spot twice. Therefore, this might count as evidence that snakes have a more social behavior than we expected.

The study offered solid proof that Cuban boas might engage in coordinated hunting, since this is a successful method to secure prey. Scientists think this behavior is not solitary, and they support social research on other snake species as well.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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