How Desert Rattlesnakes Harvest Rainwater
“Beautiful nano-labyrinths” are the secret to rattlesnakes’ ability to quench their thirst in dry climates where water is scarce, says Konrad Rykaczewski, a Fulton Schools associate professor of mechanical engineering. A team of biologists and engineers, including Rykaczewski, has discovered how the snakes become “living rain buckets.” The researchers found western diamondback rattlesnakes in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert can collect water when rain or snow is falling because water droplets stay pinned to the snakes’ skin and their scales form a network of tiny channels that capture the water. It’s suspected that the snakes evolved the precipitation harvesting anatomical trait as a survival mechanism in response to the desert environment.
See also: How rattlesnakes collect water in the desert, ABC News, January 17
Rattlesnakes have skin that’s sticky for raindrops so they can sip from their scales, CBC Radio (Canada), January 17