Pair-bonding between sexes is common in vertebrate taxa, yet it has been noted far less frequently in some groups such as reptiles, and snakes in particular. Evidence to date indicates that many snake mating-systems are polyandrous, with both males and females having multiple partners in a single breeding season, and thus unlikely to exhibit lengthy pair-bonds. Wittenberger and Tilson (1980) suggested that pair-bonding exists when pairs remain intact for a consecutive period equaling at least 25% of the breeding season. Using this criterion, we present evidence of pair-bond formation in a North American pitviper, Agkistrodon contortrix (Copperhead), a species with a polyandrous mating system.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1