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Temperature differentials between the bodies and tails of ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus): ecological and physiological implications

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We present evidence that eastern ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus) at low environmental temperatures can maintain significant temperature differentials between their bodies and tails. We used a high resolution infrared camera to record thermal data from ribbon snakes in the spring and summer. An independent two sample t-test confirmed that ribbon snakes at low spring environmental temperatures maintain significantly warmer bodies than tails relative to ribbon snakes at high summer environmental temperatures (t = 5.495, P < 0.001). Given our results that ribbon snakes at low environmental temperatures are able to maintain body temperatures higher than tail temperatures, we speculate on possible mechanisms that could account for these temperature differentials and their ecological significance.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, B3H 1X5, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 2: Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dalhousie University, 5850, College Street, B3H 1X5, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada;, Email:


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