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Do they 'mark' predators

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Hawley View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 Apr 2015 at 2:33pm
I recently heard a talk about skunks where it was mentioned that the foul smelling spray that the skunk is famous for is actually used to 'mark' predators rather than just be unpleasant.  If a predator gets sprayed, then prey animals (including other skunks) will be able to smell the predator coming from quite a distance and thus make themselves scarce.  Apparently, some 'marked' predators have starved to death before the scent wore off.

Does anybody know if this is part of the reason that grass snakes emit a foul smelling secretion if attacked??
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Apr 2015 at 2:47pm
interesting idea. In classical 'selfish gene' biology it would not make sense for a predator to become more easily identifiable by other prey animals, unless they were your kin. If anything, given that your conspecifics are your closest competitors, you would want them to find it harder rather than easier to locate a predator. Fewer competitors = better chance of passing on your own genes. I think the most likely explanation is that the skunking makes the individual grass snake itself smell/taste unpalatable, rather than to assist other prey animals in detecting the predator.
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