The giant rodent known as the African Crested Rat, despite its impressive appearance, is fatal. The rat is the only known mammal that harvests plant toxins – the same species traditionally used for poison arrows – to protect itself from predators. While researching this unique aspect of rat existence, scientists at the University of Utah have found unexpected social behavior among rodents.
The African Crested Rat is a bit like a skunk, and is able to isolate toxins from certain plants in order to defend itself. This method of defense makes the animal special, since no other known mammal has the same ability.
In a new study, researchers have found that the African Crested Rat also has unusual social behaviors – for one thing, it appears that mice form monogamous relationships and may group their young families with their offspring.
Study lead author Sarah Weinstein Description of rodenticide Closer to “black box”. Detoxic defense, first reported in 2011, is made possible by Accanthera chimberry, And it is a plant used as part of traditional stock poisons.
The compounds found in plants called cardinols are highly toxic to most animals, including humans. This latest study sought to confirm toxic mice, but also found surprising social behaviors. Weinstein explained, “At first we wanted to make sure that the detoxification behavior was real and along the way we discovered something completely unknown about social behavior.”
In this study, researchers were able to capture 25 African crowned mice – the largest group studied to date – and documented about 1,000 hours of behavior on video. Among other things, the observations confirmed that the mice use phytotoxins to protect themselves.