Date of Award

Summer 1967

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




The purpose of this study was to determine if the muscles associated with tail vibration in snakes are physiologically specialized for vibration. Timber rattle­ snakes (Crotalus horridus) , copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) and garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) were used. The copperhead represented a species which vibrates its tail but has no vibratory apparatus comparable to that of the rattlesnake. The garter snake does not vibrate its tail. A comparison of respiratory activities was made between the vibratory and tail epaxial muscle and the mid­ body epaxial muscle within and between the three species. Oxygen consumption of teased muscle fibers and muscle homogenate succinic dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase activities were measured. The resting QO2 of teased vibratory muscle fibers of the rattlesnake was found to be significantly higher than the QO2 of fibers of the tail epaxial muscle of the copperhead which was in turn signify­icantly higher than the QO2 of tail muscle fibers of the garter snake., Vibratory muscle succinic dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase activities were found to be. higher in the rattlesnake vibratory muscle than the same enzyme activities of tail epaxial muscles of the other two species. Respiratory enzyme activities in the copperhead were higher than in the garter snake muscle?.

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