Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Brilliant Disguise: The Seventh Day of Squirrel Awareness Month

On the seventh day of Squirrel Awareness Month my squirrel love gave to me
Seven smelly snakeskins,
Six comfy dreys,
Five giant sweet peanut patties shaped like Texas,
Four cups of nuts,
Three Baby Ruth bars,
Two ice cream cones,
And an acorn in an oak tree!

California ground squirrels have an ingenious trick to fool one of their predators, the rattlesnake. When a ground squirrel comes across a shed snakeskin, it will rub the skin over its fur, coating itself with the snake's scent. This confuses any rattlesnake that threatens the squirrel and its young.

If a rattlesnake wanders into the area of a California ground squirrel colony, the squirrels will not wait for it to attack. They will go on the offensive against the snake, confronting it, kicking dirt at it, and waving their tails. These squirrels are even able to shunt extra blood to the veins in the tail, heating it up. Since the snake detects heat more effectively than it sees, this makes the squirrels appear larger and more threatening to the rattler.

Here is a video that demonstrates how effectively these little ground squirrels deal with a threatening rattlesnake:

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