Research has shown that brown tree snakes can turn their bodies into a lasso to glide over power poles and trees. The new type of movement allowed this species to become invasive and take over the new habitat.
A brown tree snake has wiped out forest bird populations in Guam. The nocturnal snake was accidentally introduced to Guam in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Shortly thereafter, the bird population began to decline. As part of the protection project, the discovery of the fifth mode of travel was the unexpected result of a project to protect the nests of Micronesian starlings, one of only two native forest species remaining in Guam.
The new bizarre movement of snakes cannot be attributed to the known four – rectilinear, transverse undulating, lateral, and accordion.
This is the first time in nearly 100 years that a new type of snake movement has been identified.
The researchers called the new behavior “lasso walking.” During movement, the snake wraps its body like a lasso around a cylindrical structure and rises.
Study co-author Bruce Jane, professor of biological sciences and expert on snakes at the University of Cincinnati, said that he has been studying snakes for more than 40 years, but this is the first time he has seen this type of movement.
The rest of the snakes climb using an accordion movement that involves tilting to the side to grab two different points simultaneously. With the lasso movement, the snake uses its body to create a lasso loop and form a single grasping area.