To see how motorists treated snakes, the scientists selected a stretch of the MG-010 road between Sumidouro State Park and Serra do Cipó National Park in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. While the area boasts remarkable biodiversity, it receives upwards of 130 vehicles per hour.
The scientists created fake snakes using sand-filled cloth painted with realistic looking designs. The fake snakes were then placed in different spots on the road, for example close to the edge or close to the median, to judge if vehicles would travel out of their way to run over the life-like snakes. To see if the drivers actually paid attention to what was on the road, the scientists also placed out two liter plastic bottles in similar spots on the road. Then they set up hidden cameras to monitor passing vehicles.
The team was most interested in assessing if drivers would intentionally run over any of the objects placed in the road. The road-kills were only considered intentional if the vehicle changed its natural trajectory in the lane towards the object. Unintentional road-kills, or merely continuing along the same path, were still considered road-kills but were tallied separately.