Summary: HERPETOLOGICAL JOURNAL, Vol. 16, pp. 00-00 (2006)
DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOUR IN PIT VIPERS OF THE GENUS BOTHROPS
MÁRCIO S. ARAÚJO1
AND MARCIO MARTINS2
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP,
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
The genus Bothrops encompasses at least six evolutionary lineages that show a great
diversification in macro and microhabitat use. We studied the defensive behaviour of one species
of each of five lineages within the genus Bothrops: B. alternatus, B. jararaca, B. jararacussu,
B. moojeni and B. pauloensis. Specifically, we investigated if this diversification in habitat use
was accompanied by a similar divergence in the characters related to defensive behaviour in the
genus. Eight behavioural categories were recorded, five of which may be classified as "threatening"
(strike, tail vibration, head and neck elevation, dorsoventral body compression and body
thrashing); two as "escape" (locomotor escape and cocking); and one as "cryptic" (head hiding).
We observed significant differences in four behavioural categories. We also detected a significant
difference in the way species elevated their head and neck. Tail vibration and strikes were the