These Snakes Slither Up Trees – By Turning Themselves into Lassos

Scientists have discovered a new kind of snake movement. They found out that brown tree snakes can turn their bodies into lassos to climb up large, smooth surfaces like tubes or poles. The scientists were shocked by this discovery because they had never seen snakes move this way before.

Credit-Savidge et al-Current Biology
Credit-Savidge et al-Current Biology

How do snakes move?

Before the scientists discovered this new movement, they thought that there were only four kinds of snake movements: moving in a straight line, slithering, sidewinding, and a method of climbing called concertina movement. The lasso locomotion is totally new to science, and it is now officially known as the fifth type of snake movement.

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How did the scientists discover this new snake movement?

The scientists found out about the lasso movement by accident. They were trying to protect some native birds in Guam. These birds were in danger of being wiped out because of brown tree snakes. The brown tree snakes have been eating native birds in Guam. The snakes have caused 10 native bird species in the country to become extinct, and now only two species of native birds remain. To protect the birds, the scientists installed eight-inch-wide metal poles to keep snakes, raccoons, and other predators from climbing the birds’ nests. The scientists also installed video cameras to monitor the birds’ nests. While monitoring the birds, scientists were surprised to see that brown tree snakes were able to climb the poles. The snakes formed lassos by looping their bodies around the pole and hooking their tails around their bodies. Then, they wiggled up the pole.

Credit : Bjorn Lardner

What did the scientists find out about the snakes that did the lasso locomotion?

The scientists found out that doing the lasso locomotion was very hard for the snakes. When doing this movement, the snakes moved slowly, slipped often, and stopped to rest and catch their breath.

What are the scientists going to do after their discovery?

The scientists have only seen the new lasso movement among brown tree snakes that climb man-made poles. In the future, they want to know if other snakes do the same, and if brown tree snakes do the movement in their natural environment. Now that the scientists have discovered this new snake movement, they will find better and more effective ways to protect the birds in Guam from the brown tree snakes. They plan to use other types of barriers to protect the birds.

After reading the passage, answer the following questions:

  1. What did the scientists find out about brown tree snakes?
    • They have a new body part.
    • They have a new way of moving.
    • They have a new favorite food.
    • They have a new place to live.
Answer: b
  1. How did the scientists discover the new movement?
    • They saw some snakes in the forest doing the movement.
    • They heard reports about the new movement.
    • They caught some snakes and made them do the movement.
    • They caught the snakes on video doing the movement.
Answer: d
  1. How do snakes do the lasso movement?
    • They loop their bodies around the pole.
    • They hook their tails to the pole.
    • Only a
    • Both a and b
Answer: c
  1. What will the scientists seek to find out after this discovery?
    • They want to know if other snakes do the lasso movement.
    • They want to know if brown tree snakes do the movement in their natural environment.
    • They want to find better and more effective ways to protect the birds from the brown tree snakes.
    • All of the above
Answer: d

Recommended Reading Age: 8th Grade

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This news was published in the Roselin Rosario Issue. Read more here.


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