Southeastern's Science on Tap presents ‘Why Did the Snake Cross the Road’

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
by: Tonya Lowentritt

     HAMMOND – We’ve all heard the question ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’, but have you ever wondered why snakes attempt to do so?
     This topic is among the many studied by Southeastern Louisiana University Biology Instructor Cliff Fontenot. Understanding why snakes cross or rather are unable to cross the road is the topic of Southeastern’s next Science on Tap presentation scheduled Dec. 5.
     Sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences, the presentation by Fontenot will be held at 7 p.m. at Tope La Catering, 113 East Thomas St. in Hammond. Titled “Why did the Snake Cross the Road?” the lecture is free and open to all ages. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
     Most animals cross roads in search of food, mates, or other resources, Fontenot said. However, snakes tend to stop on roads to absorb heat, which increases their chance of being killed by traffic.
     “I have been studying snake activity on the section of Highway 51 between Ponchatoula and LaPlace for over 12 years, and found that more than 70% of the snakes on the road are dead,” he said. “This amounts to more than 1,000 snakes per year killed by traffic. So the question is really, ‘Why didn’t the snake make it across the road?’ And if so many are being killed by vehicles, why are there still so many snakes?”
     Surprising answers to these questions, said Fontenot, come from differences in body size and temperature, how different snakes respond to vehicles, and what snakes do when it floods.
     For information on this or future Science on Tap presentations, contact the Department of Biological Sciences at 985-549-3740.

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