The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2021 Impact Factor from Clarivate for the Herpetological Journal is 1.194, an increase of 0.332 from 2020.

pdf 07. Cannibalism in smooth snakes, Coronella austriaca


Open Access

pp. 168-172

Authors: Gabriela M. Jofré & Christopher J. Reading

Abstract: Cannibalism is a widespread behavioural trait in nature and snakes are no exception. In smooth snakes (Coronella austriaca) it has only been visibly observed in captive individuals or known from faecal/stomach content analyses. Between 2009 and 2018 one incidence of cannibalism, determined from a faecal sample, and one sighting, were recorded in wild smooth snakes in Wareham Forest plantations, UK. Analysis of faecal samples and visual encounter surveys were used to estimate its frequency. Both records occurred in early autumn and our results suggest that its incidence in wild smooth snakes in southern England is low (0.1-0.3 %) and may be the result of low body condition. The circumstances resulting in cannibalism in the smooth snake may also be relevant to other animal species where cannibalism has been reported.

Keywords: body condition, carrion cannibalism, intraspecific predation, maternal predation, ophiophagy, predatory cannibalism

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.