Playing dead

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World -

I was in­ter­ested to read that death-feign­ing be­hav­iour is rare in young grass snakes (Q&A, De­cem­ber 2018), as I have seen this re­sponse nu­mer­ous times. I res­cued this young snake ( pic­tured) from my neigh­bour’s cat – he was playing dead, but gave him­self away when I held him up to look him over and his eyes moved to fol­low me! For­tu­nately, he wasn’t badly hurt, so I kept him warm in my hand un­til he had perked up. I took a quick photo, then let him go in a safe place in my garden. I hope he made it! Louise Searl, via email PhD re­searcher Amy Schwartz replies: This adorable young grass snake is a per­fect minia­ture of the adult, and this par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­ual is in the mid­dle of shed­ding its skin. I have also seen young wild grass snakes feign death, which can seem like rather car­toon­ish be­hav­iour, com­plete with mouth open and tongue hang­ing out side­ways.

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