Aug 19, 2006

snakeskins on a squirrel

Speaking of snakes:
Female California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) chew on skins shed by Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) then lick themselves and their pups, apparently to anoint them with the odour of the enemy. But does this olfactory disguise fool the snakes?

To find out, Barbara Clucas of the University of California in Davis captured rattlesnakes and offered them filter paper scented with snake skins, squirrel fur, or both. The snakes were drawn to the squirrel-scented paper, lingering over the spot and flicking out their tongues as they do when they hunt. Papers scented by both snake and squirrel, or by snake alone, failed to interest them.
Although the sight of Samuel L. Jackson chewing up a rattler, then licking the flight attendants, probably would've been too over-the-top, even for Snakes on a Plane.

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