Ninja Rat Drop-Kicks Deadly Rattlesnake in Epic Slow-Motion Video

Kangaroo rats are “extreme athletes.”

Kangaroo rats sparring. (Photo by Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

An epic battle between a kangaroo rat and a sidewinder, a venomous snake, was captured in slow-motion video.

“Both rattlesnakes and kangaroo rats are extreme athletes, with their maximum performance occurring during these interactions,” Timothy Higham, an associate professor at the University of California, Riverside, said in a statement. “This makes the [high-speed camera] system excellent for teasing apart the factors that might tip the scale in this arms race.”

The researchers set up cameras to capture moments between animals rarely seen by humans. The footage revealed that the rat and snake are “surprisingly well-matched,” Live Science reports. The team watched the cameras for an entire summer.

“These lightning-fast and powerful maneuvers… tell us about the effective strategies for escaping high-performing predators,” Higham said. Explaining that they probably evolved to have better hearing and quicker reflexes because of fast speed predators like birds and rattlesnakes.

Amazingly, the snakes, which can snap at prey quicker than it takes to blink (less than 100 milliseconds), move slower than the kangaroo rat, which can react to the snake’s attack in as little as 30 milliseconds. It’s been able to completely jump clear of the snake in 70 milliseconds flat. Some kangaroo rats can jump seven to eight times their body height.

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