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A deadly poison found in African hamster's fur

Anna PaskevychNews
Lophiomys imhausi lives in the mountain forests of Africa
Lophiomys imhausi lives in the mountain forests of Africa

The hamster Lophiomys imhausi, which lives in the mountainous forests of Africa, is able to defend itself with the help of a strong poison that it collects from trees and applies to its fur.

This was stated by scientists from the University of Utah, USA. The study was published by the Journal of Mammalogy, Science Daily reports.

This hamster is the only species of the Muridae mouse family. The bristly mane that gave it its name makes it look like a porcupine. Scientists have shown that this mane can contain a strong poison, a few milligrams of which is enough to kill an elephant.

The assumption that the hamster is the only known mammal that uses plant-based toxins for defense was made back in 2011.

In a new study, scientists confirmed this assumption by analyzing the behavior of 25 hamsters in captivity.

In particular, they found that the rodents lick poison from the so-called Arrow-poison Tree, Acokanthera schimperi. The bark of this tree contains ouabain, which hamsters mix with their saliva and apply to their fur. They themselves are resistant to the toxin.

The animals use the resulting poison to protect themselves from predators: when attacked, the rodents release an unpleasantly odorous liquid from their glands and expose their sides with poisonous fur.

In addition, researchers have found that these hamsters are social animals that are prone to monogamy. Previously, it was believed that they tend to live alone.

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