Epic footage of ‘Ninja rat’ drop-kicking a striking rattlesnake is all you need to see today

This is the moment a rat fought off a lunging rattlesnake with the kind of mid-air kick usually reserved for martial arts movies.

The epic footage shows the lightning-fast reactions of a kangaroo rat escaping the snake’s potentially poisonous bite.

To execute the move ‘ninja rat’ has to perform the twisting jump in under 100 milliseconds – faster than the blink of an eye.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5

Scientists have long been puzzled over how the desert-dwelling rats defended themselves from predators. But until now they haven’t been able to film them slowly enough to see.

Researchers from University of California Riverside (UCR), San Diego State University, and UC Davis teamed up for the project and used the latest high-speed night-vision cameras to capture the rats evading snakes.

Jackie Chan would be proud (SDSU /SWNS.COM)

Despite the speed of the snake’s strike, kangaroo rats (named after their long hind feet) turn out to be even faster, with typical reaction times around 70 milliseconds and some at just 38 milliseconds.

Associate professor Rulon Clark, of San Diego State University said that one of the rats’ skills was ‘reorientating’ in mid-air. He said: ‘Kangaroo rats that responded quickly were frequently able to jump clear of the snake completely, leaving the serpent biting nothing but dust as the kangaroo rat rocketed 7-8 body lengths into the air.

‘But in perhaps the most surprising finding of our research, kangaroo rats that did not react quickly enough to avoid the strike had another trick up their sleeves.

‘They often were able to avoid being envenomated by reorienting themselves in mid-air and using their massive haunches and feet to kick the snakes away, ninja-style.’

The kicks solved a mystery that puzzled the team for years. They had even tested the blood for resistance to the snake venom.

The kick was powerful enough to send the snake sprawling (UC Riverside / SDSU /SWNS.COM)

PhD candidate Malachi Whitford, of San Diego State University, said that previous cameras were insufficient to pick up rat jumps.

He said: ‘Our previous work used lower-speed cameras, and although it seemed as though snakes had successfully struck their prey, the movements of the animals at the moment of impact was too blurry to see details.’

Scientists have long puzzled over how Kangaroo rats defend themselves (Wikipedia)

‘Kangaroo rats’ highly sensitive hearing allows them to hear low-frequency sounds and detect sudden surprise attacks, necessary for avoiding predators.

They also have enlarged hindlimb muscles and thick tendons, allowing for the rapid vertical leaps and high accelerations. The studies were published in Functional Ecology and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.’


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.