Justin L. Nolen

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Award Date

Spring 2000


Sensory Deprivation, Predatory Behavior, Burmese Pythons


Animal Sciences | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Life Sciences


Burmese pythons rely upon four primary senses to deliver an effective strike: the eyes, facial pits, vomeronasal organ, and mechanoreception (tactile feel), of which eyes play the major role. To determine the degree to which vision or thermoreception influence predatory behavior, the pythons were selectively denied these senses, and the time to initial strike and number of strikes needed to capture prey were recorded during feeding. Only when eyes were covered (either alone or in conjunction with the thermoreceptive pits) was the time to first strike significantly different. However, in none of the experimental trials did the number of strikes needed to capture the prey differ significantly from the control trials. In Burmese pythons vision played a major role in eliciting a successful predatory strike, while thermoreception was less significant to prey capture. These results are in contrast to similar studies conducted on rattlesnakes in which vision and thermoreception play equally important roles.