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August 12, 2011
Rat that Applies Poison to its Fur
The African crested rat applies tree poison to its fur to make itself more deadly.
The researchers made their discovery after presenting a wild-caught crested rat with branches and roots of the Acokanthera tree, whose bark includes the toxin ouabain.
The animal gnawed and chewed the tree's bark but avoided the nontoxic leaves and fruit. The rat then applied the pasty, deadly drool to spiky flank hairs. Microscopes later revealed that the hairs are actually hollow quills that rapidly absorb the ouabain-saliva mixture, offering an unpleasant surprise to predators attempt to taste the rat.
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM
• 12 Comments
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"I don't get it. Is this to defend the rat from squid predation? What's the squid connection?"
None. This thread is not the Friday squid thread. This Friday's squid thread is:
"Monkeys often wipe their butts with strong smelling herbs to repel mosquitoes..."
Works for humans, too. If you are going to enter an area thick with mosquitoes (swamp, etc.), crush a fresh garlic clove and rub it all over your skin. It really, really does repel mosquitoes. Probably repels people, too, but if everyone else does it, then no one notices. It's also much less harmful than toxic sprays.
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