Friday, November 16, 2007

Heating Things Up

It has been known that squirrels often shake their tails at snakes while defending their young from them. However a recent study has shown that squirrels heat up their tails when warding off rattlesnakes, utilizing the reptile's infared vision. The squirrels shake their tails more vigorously in the presence of a rattlesnake than a gopher snake who cannot see infared. Researchers used an infared camera to document the tail waving which included a temperature raise of four degrees Farenheit. They also used a robotic squirrel with a heated tail to observe rattlsnake reactions. The snakes were especially alert when the robotic tail was raised to the same temperature as that of a living squirrel's. Squirrels are partially immune to rattlesnake venom, and the results suggets that they have developed heated tails specifically for rattlesnake communication. The study is a good example of a type of animal communication that humans are essentially blind to.

Posted by Gina Sciartilli (8)


At 10:36 AM, Blogger PWH said...

nice work, This is a great defense mechanism in which squirrels have. Does does this mechanism apply only to snakes? or do they have other meachisms' to scare off other preys such as hawks/eagles?

Posted by Kofi (8)

At 10:05 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Great article, these squirrels have a well defense mechanism, by heating the tails up can make the snake away, how high can the tail's temperture rise up to and does it work to other animals?

Posted By Kyle Chiang (8)

At 11:40 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I wonder how the scientists who conducted the tests for this experiment, actually came to the hypothesis that heat may have been eminating from the squirrel's tail? Also, it's cool how squirrels are almost immune to rattlesnake venom and that this defense mechanism may have evolved from getting bitten/attacked so much. But how does the heat from the squirrels' tail make the snakes react, more specifically?

Posted by Luzviminda Maurillo


Post a Comment

<< Home