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Pipe Snakes: Cylindrophiidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Pipe snakes stay out of sight in the dirt or under leaves much of the time but will crawl about above ground after a heavy rain. Their most noted behavior is a defense tactic that involves flattening out the body and then raising and curling over the tail to show off its bright red or yellow color. At the same time, they bury the head under part of the body and wave the now flattened tail. Although the pipe snake performs the display with its tail rather than its head, it looks much like the flattened neck and head-waving behavior seen in cobras. The display may be enough to convince an attacking animal, called a predator (PREH-duh-ter), from taking a bite out of the pipe snake. If the display does not work, however, and the predator so much as touches the snake, the pipe snake will ooze a bad-smelling mixture from its vent area. Captured snakes will continue to perform the cobra display and give off the bad-smelling material for a few weeks, but eventually they get used to their new surroundings and people and stop both behaviors.

Based on information collected by watching captive snakes, the pipe snakes are able to dig quite swiftly through unpacked soil and will make tunnels that are about twice as wide as their bodies. While the wide tunnels do give them room to turn around, these snakes are able to slither frontward and backward at about the same speed. Scientists know little else about their behavior.

Pipe snakes give birth to live babies rather than eggs, most mothers having two to five young at a time. Larger females may have closer to five young, and smaller females may have closer to two. The baby snakes are quite large, often measuring half the length of the mother's body.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesPipe Snakes: Cylindrophiidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Red-tailed Pipe Snake (cylindrophis Ruffus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, PIPE SNAKES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS