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Squirrels' Tails Heat Up to Foil Snake Attacks

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Squirrels' Tails Heat Up to Foil Snake Attacks

Research News

Squirrels' Tails Heat Up to Foil Snake Attacks

Squirrels' Tails Heat Up to Foil Snake Attacks

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/12785578/12785581" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Aaron Rundus has discovered a strange behavior in California ground squirrels.

Rundus, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, found that squirrels heat their tails by 3 degrees to ward off rattlesnakes. He says snakes sense the heat and, believing their ambush has been spoiled, stop acting like predators.

The study is published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rundus talks with Robert Siegel.