Robot squirrels battle rattlesnakes

April 5th, 2012 - 12:54 am ICT by IANS  

London, April 4 (IANS) Robot squirrels have been sent into the wilds of California to battle against rattlesnakes, it was reported here Wednesday.

The robo-rodents will bravely endure the bites of the poisonous reptiles to help scientists unravel a mystery - why squirrels heat up their tails when confronted with one of the deadly predators, the Daily Mail reported.

Once the researchers have located a foraging snake, they set up the robosquirrel and a video camera to record the scene and retreat behind a blind.

The snakes seem to accept the robosquirrel as real. One of their videos shows a snake biting the robot’s head.

The squirrels were created to help scientists understand how squirrels use infrared to signal to rattlesnakes - heating up their tails to “signal” to the predators.

When squirrels encounter a rattlesnake, they heat up their tails - and wag them around, approaching it head-first, making flagging movements with their tails.

The UC Davis engineering lab built a squirrel with a heatable tail and a tail flagging mechanism, each controlled separately.

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