MAY 17, 2020 4:47 AM PDT

Male Garter Snakes Trick Others to Improve Own Mating Success

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

After spending several months in hibernation during the winter, male garter snakes emerge from the underground where they’ve stayed warm enough to survive. There’s still ice around them, and they’re cold, but the temperatures will inevitably warm up. In the meantime, however, the males have just one thing on their mind: mating.

The cold weather makes it difficult for the cold-blooded animals to move. They do so slowly, despite technically being in a race with one another to find and mate with a female. When a female garter snake finally makes its presence known, the males swarm her, validating the fierce competition among them to achieve reproductive success as they know she’ll only mate once.

But some male garter snakes don’t quite get the memo when it’s time to wake up, and they emerge late to the party. With other males already attempting to court the female, this late male has no choice but to play dirty.

He begins by emitting a fake scent similar to that of a female garter snake, and in doing so, some of the nearby males leave the female to court with him instead. But here’s the kicker: he has no intention of mating with the new arrivals, as he’ll be stealing the males’ body heat to warm himself up and go after the female on his own.

Related: Blue coral snakes have venom unlike that of any other snake

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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