Use snakeskin to deter mammalian nest predators
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Some bird species such as great crested flycatchers Myiarchus crinitus and tufted titmice Baeolophus bicolor use snake skins in their nests, possibly to reduce predation.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A randomised, replicated and controlled trial in May-June 2004 in Arkansas, USA (Medlin & Risch 2006) found that artificial great crested flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus nests placed inside 60 nest boxes were less likely to be predated if there was black rat snake Elaphe obsolete skin inside the nest box (0/20 nests predated) or both inside and outside the nest box (0/20 predated) than if there was no snake skin present (5/20 predated). Predation was mainly by southern flying squirrels Glaucomys volans. Snake skins were treated by being placed in proximity with to a live rat snake for five hours prior to installation.