In Science this week, researchers published a study about grasshopper mice and the amazing ability they have. This ability however, has nothing to do with grasshoppers, as their name might suggest. According to the University of Texas on Oct. 24, the study shows that these mice are able to withstand the stings of bark scorpions and go on to kill and eat the arthropod.
Researchers found that the mice, which are native to the southwestern part of the United States, are numb to the pain. Lead author Ashley Rowe discovered that the mice were generally resistant to the scorpion's toxin. She states, "The grasshopper mouse has developed the evolutionary equivalent of martial arts to use the scorpions’ greatest strength against them.” USA Today notes that the mouse remains unaffected, despite a scorpion's sting having enough power to kill a small child.
To test this discovery, Rowe and her team injected the toxin into the paws of mice as well as a nontoxic saline solution. The typical response to toxins was for the mice to lick their paws, however, the mice licked their paws more in response to the nontoxic injection as compared to the injection of scorpion toxin.
Rather than acting as a toxin, researchers discovered that in the grasshopper mice, it actually acts as an analgesic or painkiller. This kind of toxin-resistance has also been seen in the mongoose with a cobra.