Toxic Snakes Know They’re Toxic, Agrees Burghardt in New Scientist

UT professor Gordon Burghardt teamed up with Akira Mori, a professor at Kyoto University in Japan, to study how different snakes respond when fed toxic foods. In a recent New Scientist article, their researched showed that when snakes were fed toxic toads, they became aware they were toxic and would respond to threats with nuchal gland displays instead of slithering away.

“So far as I know, this is the only example in terrestrial vertebrates where there is some indication that animals act as if they are aware of when they are toxic and when they are not,” says Burghardt. Many animals acquire toxins from what they eat, however it doesn’t change their behavior.

Burghardt is an Alumni Distinguished Service professor in both the departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Psychology. Read the full story online.