UT scientist discovers snakes that hunt in packs

Photo courtesy of Vladimir Dinets
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CNN/WVLT) -- Is this the stuff of your nightmares? a recent study published by a scientist from the University of Tennessee found that the Cuban boa, a snake species, actually hunts in groups and works to catch prey by using teamwork, CNN reports.

The new findings mark the first time that reptiles have been observed participating in "coordinated hunting," where animals use knowledge of where other animals are to make their hunting more successful.

Vladimir Dinets published the study, basing his findings off of snakes hunting fruit bats in Cuba. He saw the snakes take up positions that would improve the probability of success in hunting by working together.

"Snakes arriving to the hunting area were significantly more likely to position themselves in the part of the passage where other snakes were already present, forming a 'fence' across the passage and thus more effectively blocking the flight path of the prey, significantly increasing hunting efficiency," the study reads.

The snakes also form a type of "curtain" to trap predators, hanging upside-down from the ceilings of caves.

"After sunset and before dawn, some of the boas entered the passage that connected the roosting chamber with the entrance chamber, and hunted by suspending themselves from the ceiling and grabbing passing bats," Dinets wrote.

Dinets is an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Tennessee's Department of Psychology. His study was published in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition. Read his full study here.