Research

Rattlesnakes Sip Rain From Their Scales

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Getting enough water in arid climates can be tough, but Western diamondback rattlesnakes have a secret weapon: their scales. During rain, sleet, and even snow, these rattlesnakes venture out of their dens to catch precipitation on their flattened backs, which they then sip off their scales.

Researchers found that impacting water droplets tend to bead up on rattlesnake scales, forming spherical drops that the snake can then drink. Compared to other desert-dwelling snakes, Western diamondbacks have a far more complicated microstructure to their scales, with labyrinthine microchannels that provide a sticky, hydrophobic surface for impacting drops. (Video and image credit: ACS; research credit: A. Phadnis et al.; via The Kid Should See This)

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