Photo Credit: Susannah Rouse
PHOTO: Susannah Rouse

Although the giant African Crested Rat has been known for years, scientists just discovered that it protects itself by making its fur poisonous. The rat chews the bark of the Acokanthera tree, which is also used by elephant hunters to poison their arrows, and deposits poisonous spit on special hairs on its back. The hairs have holes on the outside that allow the poison to seep inside. When a predator tries to bite the rat, it gets a poisonous mouthful.