Science

Rapid Viper Strikes In The Wild, Here's What Makes Them Successful Hunters

By Ayin Badz , Jan 14, 2017 05:11 AM EST
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 17: A rattlesnake coils up in a glass box filled with 50 deadly snakes outside O'Sheas Casino on the Las Vegas Strip January 17, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Animal adventurer Donald Schultz will spend 10 days and nights in the 16-foot by 20-foot glass enclosure with various snakes including vipers, pythons, cobras and rattlesnakes. Five new snakes will be added to the box each day until the count reaches 100. The event is being filmed for 'Venom in Vegas,' a two-hour special edition of Animal Planet's new series, 'Wild Recon' that will air on February 9, 2010. During the stunt, Schultz will conduct tests and extract venom from the reptiles that will be used for research. A team of experts will stand by in case anything goes wrong. (Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Researchers were able to capture how rapid viper strikes catches its prey. Feeding is the most basic need for an animal to survive. Every living organism is more likely to be eaten by another. However, there are different skills, how predators hunt their prey, like the chameleon's tongue, cheetah sprinting, fox diving into snow. Every animal has its own specialization on how to catch or escape a predator or prey.

The antagonistic predator-prey relationship is of interest to evolutionary biologists because it often leads to extreme adaptations in both the predator and prey. One example of this relationship is the rattlesnake-kangaroo rat system. This is a model system that studies the dynamic of high-power predator-prey interactions. This can be observed at a completely natural condition.

Curiously researchers would like to see how the rapid viper strike occurs during the hunt of a rattlesnake. But now, using the technological advances in portable high-speed cameras, biologist were able to capture three-dimensional video in the field of a rattlesnake preying on a kangaroo rat. The biologists, Timothy Higham at the University of California said, predator-prey interactions are naturally variable, much more so than we would ever observe in a controlled laboratory setting.

According to the Science Daily, Higham and his team would like to answer the questions as to what factors determine the success/failure of a strike or escape. In the case of the rattle snake and the kangaroo rat, chances were up to the rattle snake's accuracy and the ability of the kangaroo rat to evade the viper before the strike. Higham added that they have captured and incredible footage of Mohave rattlesnakes striking in the middle of the night, under infrared lighting, in New Mexico during the summer of 2015.

There were also chances where the rattle snake misses dramatically, either it is because the rattle snake simply misses or the kangaroo rat moved away in time. Many other studies examined snake strikes but this is the first study to actually to quantify strikes using high-speed video in the wild. Result say that the rapid viper strike of a rattlesnake extremely exceeds the defensive strike speeds and accelerations observed in the lab.

Their results also show that kangaroo rats could amplify their power when under attack by rattlesnakes via elastic energy storage. According to the Live Science, Higham said that technology is now allowing us to understand what determines the successful capture and evasion under natural conditions. Being able to capture a rapid viper strike of a rattle snake could help scientist understand predator-prey relationship.

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