Posted in Science & Nature

Badass Weapons Of Nature: Roadrunner

Roadrunners are medium-sized birds that grow to about 60cm and found in desert environments. They prefer walking or running (top speed 27km/h) to flying and have been portrayed as Road Runner in Looney Toons. In the cartoon, the bird is shown as a witty, intelligent bird that easily runs away from its predator. In real life, the roadrunner is a much more formidable animal.

Although it usually feeds on lizards and insects, roadrunners also enjoy feasting on rattlesnakes. Thanks to its quick speed, the thin bird can swiftly dig its beak into the rattlesnake before it can retaliate with its venomous bite. What happens next is quite surprising.
With its prey secured on its beak, the roadrunner promptly begins whipping its head around, bashing the snake to the ground in a circular motion. This whip-like attack causes the snake to lose consciousness or even die from the sheer impact and rotational force, essentially becoming tenderised. This deadly move has been named by ornithologists as the Centrifugal Slam. The roadrunner does this until it is certain the snake cannot attack back, then swallows it whole. As snakes tend to be longer than the bird, roadrunners are often found running around the desert with a long piece of tail dangling from its beak, the head being slowly digested in the bird’s stomach. 

Roadrunners are also known to eat horned lizards (spiked lizard that shoots blood from its eyes to deter predators), tarantula hawk wasps (giant wasp that defeats tarantulas to lay eggs inside it, with no other known predators) and even flying birds. As mentioned before, roadrunners do not fly unless in an emergency. So to hunt flying birds, they simply run, jump and Centrifugal Slam the living daylight out of the unfortunate prey.


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