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This snake turns its body into a lasso to climb smooth surfaces

January 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 48.3%. 1 min read.

Scientists have discovered that brown tree snakes can use a lasso-like movement to climb large, smooth cylindrical objects -- a way of moving never seen before in the reptiles.

Scientists have discovered that brown tree snakes can use a lasso-like movement to climb large, smooth cylindrical objects -- a way of moving never seen before in the reptiles.

People accidentally introduced brown tree snakes to the Western Pacific territory in the 1940s-50s, and the invasive species has since decimated forest bird populations on the island, as well as being responsible for power outages.

Using a three-foot metal baffle -- often used to keep birds safe from racoons and other snakes -- researchers attempted to keep the tree snakes from climbing up to bird boxes.

But, to their astonishment, video surveillance of the boxes revealed a brown snake writhing its way up to the bird box, having formed a lasso around the cylindrical pole, eight inches in diameter, with its body.

But by "lassoing," the snakes are able to form a single gripping region, with little bends formed in the loop of the lasso, allowing them to advance slowly upward, researchers said.

"We didn't expect that the brown tree snake would be able to find a way around the baffle," study co-author Thomas Seibert, of Colorado State University, said.

"Understanding what brown tree snakes can and cannot climb has direct implications for designing barriers to reduce the dispersal and some of the deleterious effects of this highly invasive species," Jayne said.

"Given that brown tree snakes can use lasso locomotion to defeat poles or cylinders of a certain size," Seibert said, "we can design baffles to better protect bird houses used for restoring some of Guam's birds. "

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