Squirrels Rub on Snake Stink to Avoid Predators
Most snakes give off a subtle odor that's akin to gamey fried chicken, but it is a useful smell to rock squirrels and California ground squirrels, which chew shed rattlesnake skins and then lick their fur with their snake-scented spit, according to a new study.
The rather indelicate ritual likely helps squirrels fool their rattlesnake arch nemeses. The discovery may represent the first documented instance of a vertebrate self-applying a chemical from a foreign source in order to defend itself against predators.
The squirrels don't even seem to like the taste or texture of rattlesnake skin.
"As far as we can tell, they do not consume the skin and at times we would see pieces of the skin stuck onto the squirrels' fur after they licked their bodies," Barbara Clucas, a scientist in the Animal Behavior Graduate Group at the University of California at Davistold said.
Tags: Squirrel | Snake | Smell