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Volatile components in scent gland secretions of garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.)

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Previous analyses of the scent gland secretions of snakes have focused on the nonvolatile components. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry of secretions from North American garter snakes (Thamnophis butleri, T. couchi, T. elegans, T. melanogaster, andT. sirtalis) indicated the following seven major volatile components: acetic, propanoic, 2-methylpropanoic, butanoic, and 3-methylbutanoic acids, trimethylamine, and 2-piperidone. Five or more of these compounds were observed in secretions of select boid, colubrid, pythonid, and viperid snakes, suggesting that they are widespread scent gland products. 3-Methylbutanal also was detected in some snake species.

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Wood, W.F., Parker, J.M. & Weldon, P.J. Volatile components in scent gland secretions of garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.). J Chem Ecol 21, 213–219 (1995).

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Key Words

  • Garter snakes
  • Thamnophis
  • 2-piperidone
  • trimethylamine
  • short-chain carboxylic acids