Kangaroo Rats Are Furry, Spring-Loaded Ninjas | Deep Look


Under cover of darkness, the world is a safer
place for a kangaroo rat. It’s mostly hidden from predators, while
it searches for seeds – its main source of food and water in this harsh California desert. But it’s not totally safe Ok, let’s slow that down. Like some kind of furry, spring-loaded ninja,
the kangaroo rat dodges those venomous fangs. And it didn’t just get lucky. These rats do this again… And again… We can see it thanks to night-vision cameras,
but it’s really dark out. So how does a kangaroo rat escape almost certain
death? Scientists think they can hear the slightest
change in air pressure – caused by a snake lunging or the flutter of an owl wing. Its hearing is ninety times more sensitive
than ours. That hyper-sensitivity is mostly thanks to
these giant hollow spaces in its skull – known as “tympanic bullae.” They act as natural amplifiers – kind of like
how a small sound echoes in a large cave. When it senses danger, the rat kicks into
action, propelled by its powerful hind legs. Thick tendons and large muscles mean a super-fast
reaction time. And their legs are huge in proportion to their
body size. That’s how they blast off like that. See how its tail is whipping around? That helps the rat twist out of the rattlesnake’s
jaws, stabilize, and land on its feet. Even when it looks like the snake has a bullseye,
the rat uses those powerful legs to kick free, before the snake can inject its lethal dose
of venom. This all happens in a matter of milliseconds,
faster than the blink of an eye. Sometimes, the rats do lose this battle, but
in one study, researchers found that three quarters of the time, they survive the snake
attacks and make it back to their burrows, safe and sound. And sometimes, the best defense is a good
offense. Ok, now you’re just showing off. So kangaroo rats aren’t the only warrior rodents
in the desert. The southern grasshopper mouse has a taste
for scorpions – sting and all. And we’ve got more rattlesnakes. How does that rattle actually work? And lastly, if you’re a Deep Look super fan,
why not join hundreds of others on Patreon for special behind-the-scenes content, early
access to episodes, and more. Link is in the description. Thanks.

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