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University of the Western Cape (2022)

The diet and feeding ecology of the brown house snake, Boaedon capensis

Bassier, Ielhaam

Titre : The diet and feeding ecology of the brown house snake, Boaedon capensis

Auteur : Bassier, Ielhaam

Université de soutenance : University of the Western Cape

Grade : Magister Scientiae (Biodiversity and Conservation Biology) - MSc (Biodiv & Cons Biol) 2022

Résumé
African brown house snakes (Boaedon capensis) are widely thought to be dietary specialists that predominantly consume rodents. Given their ubiquitous distribution, these snakes potentially play an important role in controlling rodent populations throughout their range. However, the full extent of the diet of this species remains poorly quantified, and the proportional importance of mammals to their diet is speculative. Moreover, little is known regarding intraspecific dietary variation of these snakes. In recent years, a dearth of reports of B. capensis feeding, particularly from novel information-sharing streams available through social media, suggests that the diet of these snakes may be broader than previously thought. B. capensis are not rodent specialists as amphibians (3%), birds (12%), and reptiles (38%) collectively comprise a significant proportion of their diet. There was no evidence for sexual size dimorphism or dietary variation between adult males and females. However, significant differences in morphology and prey utilisation between adults and juveniles indicate an ontogenetic shift in diet from small lizards to larger, and more diverse prey. Variation in climate and time of year did not affect diet. Importantly, the diet of B. capensis as presented by museum data vastly differed compared to literature and community science reports. In particular, the proportional use of reptiles differed across sources (museum data = 6% ; community science data = 27%). Overall, my findings reiterate the importance of examining multiple sources of information when characterizing the diet of species, as these multiple sources provide different result outcomes.

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Page publiée le 22 janvier 2023