Hemodynamic adjustments to head-up posture in the partly arboreal snake, Elaphe obsoleta

J Exp Zool. 1985 Sep;235(3):325-34. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402350303.


Radioactively-labeled microspheres were used to quantify adjustments of regional blood flows in 15 snakes (Elaphe obsoleta) subjected to 45 degrees head-up tilt. Heart rate and peripheral vascular resistance increased during tilt to compensate for the passive drop of pressure at the head. Two snakes failed to regulate blood pressure, but in 13 others arterial pressure increased at midbody (where passive changes in pressure are unexpected due to tilt alone) and arterial pressure at the head averaged 67% of the pretilt value. Tissue blood flow was reduced significantly in visceral organs, posterior skin and posterior skeletal muscle, but was maintained at pretilt levels in brain, heart, lung and anterior tissues. Ventricular systemic output averaged 24 ml/min X kg in horizontal posture and 9.4 ml/min X kg during tilt. Comparable values for pulmonary output were 4 and 6.5 ml/min X kg. Patterns of intraventricular shunting of blood acted to maintain pulmonary flow during tilt. A large right-to-left shunt (mean 76%) was present in horizontal snakes, but the shunted fraction declined during tilt (mean 54%). Left-to-right shunt increased during tilt from 7% to 14%.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiac Output
  • Heart / physiology
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Posture*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Snakes / physiology*
  • Trees
  • Ventricular Function