Friday, August 5, 2011

The rat that wears a protective coat of deadly toxin made out of bark from a poisonous tree

By Daily Mail Reporter

Avoid: The Crested Rat has deadly hairs filled with poison obtained from the bark of a toxic tree. It is the first mammal known to acquire lethal toxin from a plant

A species of rat coats itself in deadly toxin that it obtains by gnawing on a poisonous tree, scientists have discovered.

The Crested Rat - Lophiomys imhausi - from East Africa is the first mammal known to acquire lethal toxin from a plant.

To protect itself from predators, the creature chews the roots and bark of Acokanthera 'poison arrow trees' to extract the poison ouabain.

Bushmen in Kenya use the same poison to tip arrows which can fell an elephant.

In the case of the Crested Rat, the poison is absorbed into special lampwick-like hollow hairs on the animal's flanks.

When attacked, the rat puts on a dramatic fur-bristling display. Any predator that fails to get the message and takes a bite lives to regret it, or dies from heart failure.

source :dailymail

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