Video stills show a ground squirrel chewing on a rattlesnake's shed skin and then licking its body to apply the masticated mush. The act most likely persuades serpents that another snake, not a squirrel, is in the area.
A new study suggests that this behavior is part of a host of tricks the squirrels have evolved to use to avoid predation.
Squirrels Use "Snake Perfume" to Fool Predators Sara Goudarzi NGC
California ground squirrels and rock squirrels chew on sloughed-off snake skin and smear it on their fur, according to a new study. The act most likely persuades the predators that another snake, not a squirrel, is in the area.
"To our knowledge this is the first case where [this idea] has been tested systematically and shown to have an anti-predator function—protecting the squirrel from rattlesnake predation," said study lead author Barbara Clucas.
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