As if snakes by themselves weren’t scary enough, a new study states that certain snake species practice “coordinated hunting.”
Coordinated hunting is different from hunting in groups – it’s a kind of strategic hunting where animals relate in both time and space to each other while on the prowl, CBS News reports. While hunting in packs is common across animals, coordinated hunting is quite rare, and Cuban boa snakes are some of the animals that practice it.
Vladimir Dinets, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, found that Cuban boas actually pay close attention to each other’s location when stalking bats in caves, and choose their hunting grounds based on the information they gather in order to maximize efficiency.
Cuban boas are found in Cuba and surrounding islands, and are the largest species in the genus Epicrates. They have bold dark brown or black marking on the top or sides of their bodies, and grow to as long as 15 feet.
Dinets discovered that the snakes were more likely to arrange themselves into positions when they saw other snakes. This way, they are able to coordinate to form a perimeter that will prevent bats from escaping, vastly increasing the snakes’ chances of success.
This is the first study that proves coordinated hunting among snakes, Dinets said, because there is very little information on the social behavior of these animals. He said,
It is possible that coordinated hunting is not uncommon among snakes, but it will take a lot of very patient field research to find out.
The results challenge a long-held belief that snakes are solitary hunters and eaters. A video from the BBC show “Planet Earth II” seemingly backs Dinets’ study, as it shows snakes acting together to take down their prey. The snakes in the video are Galapagos racer snakes – fast, mildly venomous reptiles that can grow up to four feet long.
The study was published in Animal Behavior and Cognition.