How Animals Use Physics To Survive

How does a gecko manage to walk on the ceiling? And what happens when a dog shakes water off its coat? We talk with the authors of "Furry Logic."
"Furry Logic," by Martin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

How does a gecko manage to walk on the ceiling? Do cats drink like we do? And what happens when a dog shakes water off its coat? A new book explores how animals use physics in their daily lives.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Martin Durrani (@MatinDurrani) and Liz Kalaugher (@LizKalaugher), the authors of “Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life.”

Interview Highlights

On writing “Furry Logic”

Liz Kalaugher: “We tried to make it accessible for everybody. There’s so many stories in there — you’ve got the stories of the animals, the stories of the researchers looking at the animals and then you’ve got this story of the physics as well. We really had fun weaving all those stories together.”

On the red-sided garter snake

Martin Durrani: “If you go to Manitoba in Canada, there are some snake pits where thousands of snakes live underground during the winter. They hibernate there because it’s so cold that they bunker down for the winter. Come the spring, they come out and there are these giant balls of snakes on the ground, really cold. Turns out that this was a huge mystery for many, many years, and people really didn’t know what these snakes were doing writhing around above the surface. What they’re trying to do is, the female snakes, they disappear as fast as they can. And the males that come out are trying to steal heat from the other snakes, so they get jumped on by all these other snakes and steal the heat and warm up. It’s called kleptothermy.

“What they do is they coat themselves with sex chemicals, pheromones, so it fools the other snakes to thinking they’re women and they jump on top.”

On squirrels’ defense to rattlesnakes hunting by use of infrared heat

MD: “Snakes and squirrels in California have been fighting for millions of years. But the squirrels are really clever. What they do is they know or they’ve learned that the snakes can detect infrared radiation, so that the blood in

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