The Social Lives of Snakes

From loner to attentive parent

6:25pm, March 21, 2004

If the word snake pops into your mind in social situations, you're probably not thinking of a legless reptile. Indeed, the prevailing opinion among animal behaviorists for years was "very dogmatic that snakes weren't particularly social," says Harry Greene. "They courted, they mated, and that was it. Mothers abandoned the babies." Although Cornell University herpetologist Greene describes himself as a "total snakeophile," he says, "I was as blinkered as anybody else." But his view began to change one morning in 1995.

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