Biologists measured the force snakes exerted while climbing a vertical pipe.
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Measuring the grip of a snake up a tree

New research suggests that when a snake climbs a tree, it squeezes the trunk up to five times harder than necessary.

To find the "safety factor" of 10 snakes in motion, biologists in the US measured the force they exerted while climbing a vertical pipe wrapped in tennis grip.

The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggests the animals choose to make a fall as unlikely as possible, valuing their safety ahead of climbing efficiently.

This video shows the amount of force applied along the length of the pipe, while a snake climbs (the view of the pole has been rotated to horizontal, in order to fit the screen).

Video courtesy of Dr Greg Byrnes, Siena College, NY

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