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