Pleguezuelos JM, Feriche M, Santos X


Tail breakage can help reptiles to escape from predators. Despite the immediate advantage for survival, tail loss can also entail negative consequences. We have examined some potential costs associated to tail breakage in the colubrid snake Rhinechis scalaris (Schinz, 1822), a medium-sized terrestrial species with a high incidence of tail breakage (40.7% in the largest individuals). Tail damaged individuals were not smaller than undamaged individuals, fat-body levels (a measure of body condition) did not differ between tail damaged and tail undamaged individuals, and no relationship was found between the remaining pairs of subcaudal scales (a measure of tail-loss severity) and fatbody level in specimens with damaged tails. All results failed to support a cost in terms of overall body condition associated with tail breakage. The tail is of low importance for locomotion, there are no vital morphological structures in the tail necessary for a healthy physiology, and snakes undergo non regenerative tail loss.


Journal: Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology

DOI: 10.1016/j.jcz.2012.06.004