03 Aug '11, 12am

Africa: rat uses natural toxin from tree to stave off predators: @mongabay

Africa: rat uses natural toxin from tree to stave off predators: @mongabay

The researchers confirmed the hypothesis by presenting a wild-caught rat with branches and roots of the Acokanthera tree. The rodent proceeded to gnaw and masticate the bark (avoiding the leaves and fruit) and apply the “slaver” on its flanks. Further, the research team employed electron microscopes to examine the unique structure of the flank hairs. In doing so, they found that the perforated cylindrical structure of the hairs facilitates the rapid absorption of the poisonous saliva. Interestingly, ouabain has also been used by doctors for centuries as a clinical treatment against congestive heart failure.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0802-poison_rat.html

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