It’s Californian ground squirrel versus rattlesnake in a potentially lethal showdown. But the squirrel has a secret weapon that until now has remained invisible to the human eye.
The ground squirrel heats up its tail then waves it in the snake’s face – a form of harassment that confuses the rattler, which has an infrared sensing organ for detecting small mammals.
This defensive tactic remained invisible to biologists until they looked at the animals through an infrared video camera. Now they believe that many other animals might be using infrared weaponry to ward off potential predators.
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