Eye Spy Snake Eyes

By Heather Kornylo
Junior Category (Grades 7-8)
Experiment | Biology

The required ethics forms have been submitted for this project.

Snakes are becoming more popular as pets but are often treated as being disposable. Would people consider snakes in a different light if we can show some cognitive ability? The objective of this experiment was to investigate cold blooded cognition. Would a corn snake be able to navigate a maze using only visual clues?

With respect to maze design, all the bins were made of transparent plastic. In Bin #2 are the green LEDs with one on each side. One LED was on constantly and the other was flashing. There was a cardboard divider between Bin #2 in the middle and the final bins (Bin #3 and #4). I wanted to make sure that the decision was based on the LEDs. There was a fan to keep the air flowing through the maze to eliminate any smell. The heated hut was the prize at the end of the maze.

I have learned that Jazz prefers to hide under her paper towel in her plastic tub. For Carlos, he likes his hut and spends a lot of time in it. Perhaps, that was the reason for his limited success on navigating the maze. I thought that the transparent barrier would make them feel vulnerable. Instead, they were curious.

Based on my data, corn snakes are not visual learners. For future testing, I would like to try a blue and red LED and to test their other senses, specifically, hearing and smell.

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