Campus News

Ecologist cited as expert in rattlesnake research

Whit Gibbons, professor emeritus at the Odum School of Ecology, was quoted by KVIA in reference to a study on rattlesnakes.

The new study found that rattlesnakes will change the frequency of their rattle depending on how close a threat gets to them. Gibbons said that rattlesnakes try to avoid conflict, so alerting potential threats of their location makes sense.

“Like other snakes, rattlesnakes, of which there are numerous species in North America, are more interested in being undetected than confronting any other animal other than their prey,” he said.

Rattlesnakes are venomous, said Gibbons, but they avoid using it when they can, hoping to avoid breaking their fangs or getting into fights they can’t win. He also believes rattlesnakes may use their rattle to attract prey.

He said he believes future studies will focus on how rattlesnakes use their rattles to attract prey, “possibly through auditory mimicry of species that serves as prey to other species.”