Recently, Bangor University’s Herpetological Society hosted a talk by Dr Xavier Glaudas from the University of Witwatersrand. The talk was based on his post-doc research, and data was collected between October 2012 and February 2016.
Overview of the talk
The talk started with an explanation of how puff adders (Bitis arietans) could be considered a model organism for studying behaviour in the wild. This is due to four main factors: the species’ abundance, limited mobility, its ambush foraging behaviour and the fact that it is easily approached.
He then explained how his team implanted radio transmitters into a total of 86 snakes, and how he set up camera traps to capture data on their behaviour. Dr Glaudas also used museum specimens to explore the diets of puff adders.
Over the course of his post-doc, Dr Glaudas collected over 11,000 data points from the radio transmitters and over 4,000 hours of video showing puff adder foraging behaviour.
The radio tracking data showed that puff adders may travel small distances outside of the breeding season. Data from the videos suggested that the wild specimens have a more varied diet than that shown by museum specimens. The videos also showed luring behaviour, not previously thought to be shown by this species.
Thoughts on the talk
I feel Dr Glaudas presented very well. I liked his use of camera trap videos to illustrate his points. His talk was very engaging.
I am always interested to see how people use camera traps and radio tagging to look at animal behaviour and ecology. This talk reinforced my interest in the area, which started when I began volunteering online for Snapshot Serengeti. Having gained some practical experience with both technologies through using my own camera trap and attending a practical involving radio transmitters, I would be interested in learning more about and gaining experience in this area.
I feel I would enjoy carrying out behavioural observations like the ones described above. Dr. Glaudas’ talk has given me ideas for potential research topics which I would love to explore in the future.