There are very few comprehensive studies of the ecology of small-bodied snakes. Here, we describe the ecology and demography of the Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata) based on 1,640 captures on the Savannah River Site in the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina, USA from 1951–2007. Female T. coronata were significantly longer, heavier, and heavier-bodied than males but had relatively shorter tails. Clutch size based on oviductal eggs was positively correlated to maternal body mass and length. Snakes exhibited a unimodal seasonal activity pattern that peaked in summer. Pitfall captures were significantly male-biased from July–October, corresponding to the suggested mating period for this species in this part of its range. We identified three classes of animals in the population: neonates, second year animals, and older animals that included both non-reproductive subadults and reproductive adults. Longevity was at least five years for two recaptured males originally captured as mature adults. Centipede species were the exclusive prey identified from T. coronata collected on the Savannah River Site. Our study demonstrates that research on underrepresented species is possible and can contribute to understanding of snake ecology.
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Vol. 2008 • No. 2