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Videos

You might have already seen these videos posted on youtube. In fact, that's probably how you found our site! But in case you found us some other way, here are all the supporting videos from our scientific publications using high-speed cameras to study interactions between kangaroo rats and rattlesnakes. 

 

All of these recordings are filmed at 500 frames per second with two synchronized Edgertronic high speed cameras. The video playback is slowed down 30 times so you can see the animal movements clearly. Most of the videos are under 30 seconds, and so took place in real time in less than one second!

Rattlesnakes and kangaroo rats in these studies were free-ranging, and recordings were made by following the movements of snakes and setting high speed cameras in locations where snakes adopted ambush coils. The interactions all take place at night, usually when it's very dark out. We record using supplemental IR lighting visible to our cameras but not the animals.

If you like these videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel! We will post new videos to our channel every week or so.

These videos both show Mohave rattlesnakes (Crotalus scutulatus) attempting to strike Merriam's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys merriami), This was our first study pioneering the field methodology of the system (Higham et al. 2017). We hope to continue to use these methods to answer many additional questions. 

 

This first video is a classic display of the incredibly fast reaction time of the kangaroo rat.

 

In the second, the snake attempts a strike at a kangaroo rat that is hopping rapidly by, but misses the target by a few centimeters.

This clip shows a typical antagonistic encounter between two desert kangaroo rats (Dipodomys deserti). This highly territorial species uses powerful jumps and mid-air kicks to fight over resources. Desert kangaroo rats readily defend their burrows, food caches, and foraging areas from invaders. The PVC pipe device in the experiment is used as an experimental setup testing reaction time.

 

From Freymiller et al 2019.

This clip shows the ability of kangaroo rats to reorient themselves mid-leap using tail rotation. In all of our jumping videos, even after performing a number of twists and kicks in mid-air, kangaroo rats always manage to reorient themselves to land on their hind feet. By landing on their feet, they can immediately jump further out of the vicinity of the snake.

 

From Freymiller et al 2019

Desert kangaroo rat defensively kicking away a sidewinder rattlesnake in mid-air. These maneuvers allow kangaroo rats to avoid venom injection by using a forceful kick or body roll to dislodge the snake and push it away. 

 

From Freymiller et al 2019

Snake strikes involve a complicated series of motions to straighten the body, project the head forward, open the mouth, and erect the fangs, all in a few milliseconds. Typically, snakes are very accurate in both targeting and timing, but a significant portion of snake attacks involved some sort of mistake. This sidewinder rattlesnake struck too early. The snakes come to full extension before reaching the kangaroo rat.

 

From Whitford et al. 2019

This video illustrates the amazing reaction time of kangaroo rats. Even though it was entirely unaware of the snake prior to the snake starting the extend phase of the strike, this kangaroo rat still detects and avoids the strike in under 0.04 seconds, well before the snake can reach it with its strike.

 

From Whitford et al. 2019

This video illustrates the complex maneuvers that kangaroo rats can use to avoid rattlesnake strikes--they don't always just jump! In this clip, the kangaroo rat detects the strike, flips upside, kicks the snake away, and then rights itself and leaps to safety.

 

From Whitford et al. 2019

This video shows a defensive mid-air kick that kangaroo rats can use to avoid death, even if they are bitten by a snake. Kangaroo rats can reorient and kick so quickly that they can often send the snake flying away from their body before it has a chance to inject venom. 

 

From Whitford et al. 2019