We studied sea kraits (Laticauda colubrina) on a small Fijian island during the mating season (September–December) in two successive years. These snakes forage at sea but return to islands to mate (and to lay their eggs, slough their skins, and digest their prey). On land, many females are accompanied by one or more courting males. The males align their bodies with that of the female and occasionally twitch spasmodically. These groups may remain together for days, with overt courtship by males much less frequent and intense than in most previously-studied snake species. Experimental trials in outdoor arenas showed that larger females attracted more intense courtship than did smaller animals. Females containing recently-ingested prey items were no more or less attractive to males than were unfed females. The intensity of courtship did not vary significantly among different times of day, nor was it consistently correlated with ambient temperature or with group size (operational sex ratio). Male sea kraits did not interact with each other in any overt way during courtship, and larger body size did not enhance male reproductive success. In several respects, the courtship of L. colubrina differs from that reported for other snake species.
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Vol. 58 • No. 2