How To Look At Puff Adder Behaviour

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.

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Food phylogeny


Following the recent paper in the Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research describing food-washing behaviour in babirusa (Ito et al., 2017), it seemed to be a good time to look at the phylogenetic aspect of this behaviour.

The food-washing behaviours of primates (Maca spp., Pongo abeliiGorilla gorilla and Pan spp.) are well known and observed both in the wild and in captivity.

However, more research is needed into the food-washing behaviour of the babirusa pig (Babyrousa celebensis) and the raccoon (Procyon lotor).


Allritz, M., Tennie, C. and Call, J., 2013. Food washing and placer mining in captive great apes. Primates, 54(4), pp.361-370.

ITO, Masaaki et al. Food preparation behaviour of babirusa (Babyrousa celebensis). Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 2, p. 97-103, apr. 2017. ISSN 2214-7594. Available at:

Galef, B.G., 1990. Tradition in animals: Field observations and laboratory analyses. Interpretation and explanation in the study of animal behavior, 1, pp.74-95.

Nakamichi, M., Kato, E., Kojima, Y. and Itoigawa, N., 1998. Carrying and washing of grass roots by free-ranging Japanese macaques at Katsuyama. Folia Primatologica, 69(1), pp.35-40.






Curiosity didn’t kill the cow

Readers may have seen the recent video of a herd of 150 heifers following a beaver (if not, this post contains the original video). However, this is not the first time cows have been shown to follow unusual stimuli:

A traditional way of herding cattle is by using Kulning, a high-pitchedScandinavian cattle herding call. It is traditionally carried out by women (Johnson, 1984). Although numerous studies on the physiology and acoustics of Kulning have been carried out, there is a lack of research on why cattle react to this style of singing.

Remote control vehicles may also provoke a follow/chase response in cattle, as shown by this video.


Johnson, A., 1984. Voice physiology and ethnomusicology: Physiological and acoustical studies of the Swedish herding song. Yearbook for Traditional Music, pp.42-66.