Thirsty animals stay hydrated using these ingenious techniques
Rattlesnakes, chimpanzees, kangaroo rats, and more have developed strategies for surviving in water-scarce environments.
So how do these sit-and-wait predators stay hydrated way up in the Rocky Mountains, where standing water is scarce? Easy. They turn their bodies into rain-collecting bowls.
When it sprinkles, prairie rattlesnakes slither out in the open and coil up, says Emily Taylor, a snake biologist and director of the Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Laboratory, at California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo. With their bodies flattened into a disk, the rain beads up on their scales thanks to a microscopic, labyrinth-like texture that prevent the droplets from sliding off.
In 2017, Taylor and her colleague Scott Boback, of Dickinson College, in Pennsylvania, placed time-lapse cameras near wild rattlesnake nurseries in Colorado as part of