Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Scientist TV - How a boa strangles its prey

Boa constrictors don't waste time strangling their victims. By sensing when their prey's pulse stops, they know when to release their grip.
In this video, Scott Boback and his team at Dickinson College serve a boa a warmed-up dead rat to see how it attempts to suffocate it. Although the rat has no pulse, it shows how the boa wraps itself around its prey, suggesting which surfaces contain sensors below the skin. During the manoeuvre, the boa also adjusts its position to save energy.
When clenching a dead rat, a boa would usually stop squeezing after about 10 minutes. But in tests with a simulated pulse, the snake would keep gripping it for about 20 minutes. According to the researchers, it's the longest example of constriction for both live and dead mammals.
To find out more, read our full news story: Boas sense when prey's heart goes still.
If you enjoyed this video, watch vegetarian orang-utans eat a super-cute loris or see a spider build the world's largest web.

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