Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Michael Goodrich


Strike/release vs. strike/hold feeding behavior was observed for 5 Crotalus atrox and 5 Agkistrodon piscivorous. Two sizes of warm blooded prey were offered to the rattlesnakes on alternate weeks. Cottonmouths were offered, alternately, fish or mice of equal size. Although data varied among individual subjects, cottonmouths offered fish demonstrated the strike/hold behavior significantly more often than the strike/release behavior; cottonmouths offered mice struck and released significantly more often than they struck and held. It is concluded that the strike/hold strategy in sreponse to fish is adventageous because the danger of holding such prey is minimal and the release of such prey in an aquatic environment often results in escape. Strike/release strategy in response ot mice is adventageious because of the potential danger to the predator from incisors and claws. Rattlesnakes gave the strike/release response significantly more often toward large warm blooded prey than the strike/hold response; small warm blooded prey were struck and held significantly more often than larger prey. It is concluded that this is due to the greater potential danger from larger prey.