Squirrels Use Snake Scent To Stay Alive

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Local researchers have found that some squirrels use a clever way to shield themselves from predators. They chew up discarded rattlesnake skin and smear it on their fur to mask their scent. Barbara Clucas is an animal behaviorist at UC Davis.      

"We found that the adult females and juvenile squirrels did this behavior more than the adult males and we used this as evidence that it might be an anti-predator behavior so, protecting them against rattlesnakes, because adult females actively protect their pups and pups are more susceptible to rattlesnake predation." 

Scientists observed the behavior in two species of squirrels - California ground squirrels and rock squirrels. 

Clucas says they may use the information in the future, if the squirrels become endangered. Supplying them with rattlesnake odor may keep them alive.