Intraspecific chemical communication among related and unrelated conspecifics may play an important role in social organization and kin recognition within snakes. We monitored the movements of 7 adult Crotalus horridus (Timber Rattlesnake) and 22 of their neonates from May 2008 to October 2010. Our objective was to determine if neonates follow their mothers to suitable den sites in North Central Missouri. Mothers tended to move away from the rookery between parturition and ingress, but neonates stayed in the vicinity of their release site for up to a week after the dispersal of their mother. Despite the loss of radiotransmitters, we were able to follow 6 neonates to ingress: 5 overwintered in the same den as their mother and 1 overwintered in a known den of a conspecific female. Our observations support the hypothesis that Timber Rattlesnake neonates follow their mother or, at the very least, follow conspecifics to suitable den sites in the ir first year.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1