Meal size and specific dynamic action in the rattlesnake Crotalus durissus (Serpentes: Viperidae)
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We studied the effect of meal size on specific dynamic action (SDA) in the South American rattlesnake Crotalus durissus, by measuring oxygen consumption rates (VO2) prior to and after the ingestion of meals ranging from 10-50% of snake's body mass. Regardless of meal size, variation in VO2 with time during digestion demonstrated the same general pattern. Oxygen consumption rates peaked between 15 and 33 h post-feeding, at values 3.7-7.3 times those prior to feeding. Snakes, while digesting meals of 30% and 50% of their body mass, experienced VO2 that exceeded rates measured during forced activity. Following peaks in VO2, rates returned to prefeeding values within 62-170 h post-feeding. Post-prandial peak in VO2 and the duration of the metabolic response to feeding increased with meal size. Digestion is an energetically demanding activity for C. durissus, with an estimated cost equaling 12-18% of the ingested assimilated energy.