PLoS ONE (Jan 2021)

Antipredator behavior of newts (Cynops pyrrhogaster) against snakes.

  • Koji Mochida,
  • Akira Mori

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 11
p. e0258218


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Newts and salamanders show remarkable diversity in antipredator behavior, developed to enhance their chemical defenses and/or aposematism. The present study reports on the antipredator behavior of newts (Cynops pyrrhogaster) in response to snakes. Newts displayed a significant amount of tail-wagging and tail-undulation in response to a contact stimulus from the snake's tongue, which is a snake-specific predator stimulus, as compared to a control stimulus (behavioral scores: tongue, 1.05 ± 0.41; control, 0.15 ± 0.15). Newts that were kept in warm temperature conditions, 20°C (at which snakes are active in nature), performed tail displays more frequently than newts kept in low-temperature conditions, 4°C (at which snakes are inactive in nature). Our results suggest that the tail displays of C. pyrrhogaster could function as an antipredator defense; they direct a snake's attention to its tail to prevent the snake from attacking more vulnerable body parts. We also discussed the reason for inter-populational variation in the tendency of newts to perform tail displays.