A small, adorable kangaroo rat was caught on camera breaking out serious self-defense moves when a rattlesnake appeared in the darkness. Though the snake managed to get a bite, the rat was quick to react, putting aside the expected panic response and replacing it with a powerful kick that sent the snake flying. Even better, the action was caught in slow-motion.
The kangaroo rat is native to the western desert regions of North America, where it can be found hopping around on two legs like a miniature, furry kangaroo. The hopping motion is made possible by their large hind legs, which enable them to jump distances as long as 6ft and run as fast as 6mph.
The bipedalism and powerful thrusting ability enables the kangaroo rat to make quick escapes from predators lurking in the desert, including snakes. An example of this was recently shared as part of research by students from San Diego State University, UC Riverside, and UC Davis.
Snakes, of course, are quite fast at striking, making the battle between kangaroo rat and rattlesnake a nail-biter. By recording the interactions in slow-motion, researchers are better able to determine what maneuvers a kangaroo rat uses to escape becoming some other creature’s dinner.
Co-author of two related studies, UCR associate professor Timothy Higham, explained in a university press release:
These lightning-fast and powerful maneuvers, especially when executed in nature, tell us about the effective strategies for escaping high-performing predators. Those that are successful at evading the strike will suggest ways in which the kangaroo rat might be evolving in response to the intricacies of the predatory movements.