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Cal Poly study says rattlesnakes may benefit from climate change

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - A recent study conducted by Cal Poly researchers finds rattlesnakes are likely to benefit from climate change.

According to the study, a combination of factors makes an increasingly warmer climate "beneficial to rattlesnakes that are found in almost every part of the continental United States but are especially common in the Southwest."

Researchers found that rattlesnakes prefer warm temperatures of between 86-89 degrees, a much warmer temperature than they generally experience in nature.

“We were surprised to see how much lower the body temperatures of wild snakes were relative to their preferred body temperatures in the lab,” said Hayley Crowell, a graduate student researcher and project lead. “There are a lot of ecological pressures in nature that could prevent rattlesnakes from basking, such as the risk of increased exposure to predators. A warmer climate may help these snakes heat up to temperatures that are more optimal for digestion or reproduction."

The study,” Thermal Ecology and Baseline Energetic Requirements of a Large-Bodied Ectotherm Suggest Resilience to Climate Change, was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in May. 

To ready more about this study, click here.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County

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Karen Cruz-Orduña

Karen Cruz-Orduña is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Karen, click here.


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