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Kangaroo Rats Are Furry, Spring-Loaded Ninjas | Deep Look

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 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science
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Kangaroo rats use their exceptional hearing and powerful hind legs to jump clear of rattlesnakes or even deliver a stunning kick in the face.

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As they forage, kangaroo rats need to continually scan the surrounding sandy environment for any predators foxes, owls, and snakes that could be anywhere. Once a well-camouflaged sidewinder rattlesnake strikes, aiming its venomous fangs at the furry seed-harvester, the kangaroo rat springs up, and away from the snakes deadly bite, kicking its powerful hind legs at the snakes face, and using its long tail to twist itself in mid-air away from the snake to safety.

Kangaroo have the uncanny ability to jump high at just the right moment. Biologists believe that this most likely comes from its keen hearing, which is 90 times more sensitive than human ears, allowing the rats to react in as little as 50 milliseconds.

In addition to their finely-tuned ears, the desert kangaroo rats highly-evolved musculature generates lots of force very quickly, resulting in jumps almost ten times their body height.

Muscles in kangaroo rats have a thick tendon, surrounded by large muscles, which translates directly to more power and a faster reaction time. With its powerful hind limbs, the kangaroo rat is also able to deliver a black belt kick to the jaw of the rattlesnake, sending the rattlesnake soaring to the ground, before landing away from the snake.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

--- Can a kangaroo rat survive without water in the desert?

The body of the kangaroo rat has evolved to be especially adapted to their harsh dry desert environments, so they are able to get all of their water from seeds they eat.

--- How high can a kangaroo rat jump?

Some kangaroo rats are able to jump as high as 9 feet, or approximately 10 times their body height.

--- Are kangaroo rats endangered?

There are 20 existing species of kangaroo rats. Six of these species are considered threatened. The two species featured in our episode, the Merriams kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami) and desert kangaroo rat (Dipodomys deserti) are not endangered, and relatively common in the desert areas they are found.

---+ For more amazing slow motion videos of kangaroo rats and rattlesnakes, visit our friends at:

---+ Shoutout!

Congratulations to these fans on our YouTube community tab who identified the special parts in a kangaroo rats' skull that make their hearing so exceptional... the tympanic or auditory bullae:

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