New Study Finds That Dice Snakes Can Fake Their Own Death

Dice Snake
Image via coboflupi/Depositphotos

Playing dead to ward off predators is not uncommon in the animal kingdom, and one snake species is taking things to a whole new level. According to a new study, dice snakes can put theatrical displays in an attempt to fake their own death.

The study in question was conducted by the lead author Vukašin Bjelica, a biologist at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and it was published in the journal Biology Letters.  Bjelica and his team of researchers on a population on Golem Grad, an island in North Macedonia, commonly known as “Snake Island” due to its large snake population.

They tested 263 dice snakes, simulating a predator attack, and discovered they could fake their own death using extra dramatic effects, such as smearing feces on their bodies and bleeding from their mouths.

“There are conflicting theories about the origin of death feigning. Some say it is a conscious response while others are adamant it is not. One theory is that it is the ‘most primitive’ defense response, similar to freezing in a high-stress situation,” Bjelica told CNN.

He also added that it remains unclear how individual snakes tailor their antipredator response, stressing that the results were gathered from snakes’ interactions with human researchers and not observations of real-life encounters with natural predators.