Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Snakes Keeping Other Snakes Away - A Myth

Various people have commented to me from time to time that some species of snake keep other species away. For example, some say that pythons (or carpet snakes) keep black snakes away, and that black snakes keep brown snakes away.

I decided to find out whether such statements were fact or myth, and touched base with an authority (James) who works in the Biodiversity Conservation Section of the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation. James' reply to my email reads:

"The theory that some snakes keep others away is an urban (or rural in your case) myth. Snakes have habitat preferences like every other animal so it may be that this story arose out of the fact that in certain habitats you see more of one kind of snake than another. There is no evidence that the type of competetive exclusion you are referring to occurs, in fact there are plently of areas where you will find pythons, black snakes and brown snakes living together. They tend to eat different things and use the habitat differently so as not to compete too much."

Thanks for clearing that one up, James.

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