Red-Sided Garter Snakes in Manitoba

Paige color marking a snake

On May 15 we returned from Manitoba completing the lab’s fourth year of work on red-sided garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis).  During out two-week stay research student Paige Copenhaver and I studied the metabolic impact of replacing copulatory plug material after they have successfully mated.  In addition we studied both large (> 35 g) and small (< 25 g) males to see if body size impacted plug material synthesis.    Thanks to a new metabolism system design that employs open-flow analysis of gases in a closed-system chamber  we were able to show that male snakes do indeed exhibit a higher resting metabolic rate for some period of time following a copulation.  However, the magnitude of this extra cost did not appear to be influenced by body size.  Now that we are back at home Paige is hard at work in the lab constructing a standard metabolic rate curve for male snakes so that we can assess the magnitude of the metabolic increase that occurs post copulation.  Paige will also attempt to determine the energy content of the plug material using dried plugs we brought back with us from Manitoba.  A few select photos are shown below in a slide show.  If you want to see the entire Flickr album click here.

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