a female snake being pursued by male snakes

Credit Christopher R Friesen

Stressed snakes starve themselves for sex

Stressed out, starving, and sexually charged. That’s what life is like for male garter snakes, which will go without food for up to 3 weeks to participate in a nonstop breeding bash, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Thousands of writhing snakes might give you the quivers, but the garters are so preoccupied with sex that the scientists studying them are more worried about accidentally stepping on one. The males pay a price for their extended merrymaking. The researchers discovered that compared with similarly aged females, male snakes had shortened telomeres—the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes—a trait implicated in aging, disease risk, and death, they report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

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