Kangaroo Rat Caught On Tape Confounding Rattlesnake With Ninja-Like Moves

Kangaroo rat escapes jaws of a rattlesnake with a ninja kick			
   by Daniel Hammond 

Kangaroo rat escapes jaws of a rattlesnake with a ninja kick by Daniel Hammond Published

In the video that shows an epic battle between a rattlesnake and a kangaroo rat, it is the underdog that emerges victorious over the venomous reptile by kicking hard right at its face!

"Both rattlesnakes and kangaroo rats are extreme athletes, with their maximum performance occurring during these interactions", Higham said in a statement.

For kangaroo rats, who generally eat seeds, these attacks are commonplace, but the tracking of the encounters by the researchers revealed that the two are evenly matched and show for the first time ever the defensive maneuvers the kangaroo rats use.

"T$3 hey often were able to avoid being envenomated by reorienting themselves in mid-air and using their massive haunches and feet to kick the snakes away, ninja-style", shared Rulon Clark, an associate professor at the San Diego State University and an author of the study.

The study was carried out in conjunction between the University of California-Riverside, San Diego State University and UC Davis, and has been published in the journal Functional Ecology and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

And they managed to capture how the rodents escape from a rattlesnake that strikes at under 100 milliseconds - faster than the blink of an eye. "This makes the system excellent for teasing apart the factors that might tip the scale in this arms race". As the rattlesnakes lunge in for the kill, it seems certain that death awaits, but miraculously, the rats are able to spring up in the air and kick the snakes in the neck (that's if snakes have necks. they're kind of one big neck really) before making good their escape. For some context, the little ninjas can react in just 70 milliseconds, while the average human blink takes about 150 milliseconds - so blink and you could miss it, twice.

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The researchers also found the kangaroo rats that were not able to launch themselves fast enough to have a special move that could still help them evade the predator. "The video is recorded at 500 frames per second, and playback is slowed down about 30 times", the researchers explained how the video was made.

One video shows a kangaroo rat successfully kicking a snake - which is then sent flying through the air and crashing feet away. They had even tested the blood for resistance to the snake venom.

Catching prey and avoiding predators are central to the reproductive success of animals.

Besides the hair-trigger reflexes and superior athleticism, kangaroo rats also have sensitive hearing that allow them to pick up low-frequency sounds that suggest a potential ambush, according to NBC Los Angeles. "During jumps, their enlarged hindlimbs propelled vertical leaps that were multiple body lengths into the air, and these leaps were often accompanied by mid-air kicks and other maneuvers that deterred snakes".

Rattlesnakes are classic ambush predators.

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