London: 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.