Lazy snakes! Pythons can be couch potatoes, too

San Diego, CA Comic strip genius Gary Larson, creator of "The Far Side," is noted for morphing animal scientific attributes into human behavior. Consider the sketch of a family of pythons laying about after Thanksgiving dinner. The snakes that consumed a mouse, some chicken, and glucose are ready to go out and play football shortly after dining. But the pythons that indulged on the starchy foods cannot budge from the couch, still trying to digest their meal.

A scene from a Larson cartoon? Perhaps. But it is also a notion based in scientific fact.

A team of California researchers have tested pythons, determining the reptiles' specific dynamic action (SDA), or the metabolic increment associated with a python's digestion, assimilation, and excretion of specific foods. SDA is determined not by how much it eats, but what it eats. Moreover, the energy required for a certain level of SDA accounts for a large energy expenditure, which may reduce the metabolic scope available for other activities.

The authors of these findings will discuss their results in a presentation entitled, "Effects Of Meal Type On Postprandial Calorigenesis In Python Molurus." The investigators are M.D. McCue, A.F. Bennett, and J.W. Hicks, all of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine. They will appear during the upcoming scientific conference, "The Power of Comparative Physiology: Evolution, Integration and Application" an American Physiological Society intersociety meeting being held August 24-28, 2002, at the Town & Country Hotel, San Diego, CA. Further information about the conference and the speakers can be found at: http://www.the-aps.org/meetings/aps/san_diego/home.htm

Hatchling Burmese pythons were obtained and raised in the laboratory on a diet of mice and rats for four months prior to experiments. The pyt

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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