African crested rat (Margaret Kinnaird)
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Footage reveals how African crested rat applies poison

3 August 2011 Last updated at 01:35 BST

A species of rat has evolved an ingenious method to foil any predators that try to eat it, scientists report.

This footage reveals how the African crested rat chews the roots and bark of a highly toxic tree, and then smears the lethal mixture on its specially adapted fur.

If a predator approaches, the rodent exposes its black and white, poison-laden crest, as if encouraging an attack.

However if the predator takes a bite, it is likely to die, or at least suffer so much that it never bothers the rat again.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.