Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 1]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher, Matin Durrani

"So the squirrel changes its behaviour depending on the kind of snake it confronts: hot tail for a rattlesnake, cool for a Pacific gopher snake. But let’s look at things from the rattlesnake’s point of view. How do we know it’s deterred by ‘seeing’ extra infrared radiation beaming from a squirrel tail? Perhaps the reptile would slither off even if the squirrel waved a tail the same temperature as the rest of its body.  Rundus couldn’t ask a squirrel if it would mind keeping its tail cool. Instead he did the next best thing and built a biorobotic squirrel – a stuffed squirrel with a set of cylindrical cartridge heaters up its tail. Usually these devices are employed in industry for warming things like metal pipes, not squirrels, which raised eyebrows when Rundus went shopping. ‘I got a lot of interest – and laughs – when the companies found out what I was using their heaters for,’ he recalls."

 

Ground Squirrel vs Rattlesnake