The rattling sound of rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) as a communicative resource for ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) and burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia).

Abstract

Animal communication involves very dynamic processes that can generate new uses and functions for established communicative activities. In this article, the authors describe how an aposematic signal, the rattling sound of rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis), has been exploited by 2 ecological associates of rattlesnakes: (a) California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) use incidental acoustic cues in rattling sounds to assess the danger posed by the rattling snake, and (b) burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) defend themselves against mammalian predators by mimicking the sound of rattling. The remarkable similarity between the burrowing owl's defensive hiss and the rattlesnake's rattling reflects both exaptation and adaptation. Such exploitation of the rattling sound has favored alternations in both the structure and the deployment of rattling by rattlesnakes.

Cite this paper

@article{Owings2002TheRS, title={The rattling sound of rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) as a communicative resource for ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) and burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia).}, author={Donald H. Owings and Matthew P. Rowe and Aaron Rundus}, journal={Journal of comparative psychology}, year={2002}, volume={116 2}, pages={197-205} }