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In a fight between a kangaroo rat and a rat team, maybe bet on the rat, according to new research out of California.

High-speed video captured by researchers at the University of California Riverside shows the small rodents that often weigh just 4.5 ounces can kick an attacking rattlesnake in the head with lightning speed, "ninja-style". In a video, a rat is seen high in the air and kicks a snake with its haunches and launches the hose several meters away. Then the rat runs for safety.

"Kangaroo rats that responded quickly could often jump off the snake and let the snake bite other than dust, as the kangaroo raft hit 7-8 body lengths in the air," Rulon Clark, co-author and an associate professor of biology at San Diego State University said in a statement.

The team has been working to find out how the rats avoid death when snakes attack for some time. This week, they published two new papers in peer-reviewed journals Functional Ecology and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Videos of the "ninja" rats are released on YouTube and the team now even has a website dedicated to the little fighting rodent: Ninjarat.org. More: Video of great spider pulling opossum is nightmare: "We couldn't really believe what we saw."

They observed previously live kangaroo rats with snake bites, and were amazed at how they got away. Low speed cameras did not record the animal interaction clearly. Then they upgraded the equipment. Using cameras with higher recording speeds and resolution, they showed the rats "record-breaking reaction time" in "exquisite details," says Malachi Whitford, one of the lead authors and a PhD student at San Diego State University. 19659005] Other leading author Grace Freymiller from San Diego State University told her knowledge that the work is "firstly to describe the kinemakers of elusive leaps in bipedal rodents that avoid actual predators attack."

Kangaroo rats are found in the Western and Southwestern United States, said the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

More: A Texas homeowner saw a "few" rattlesnakes and called for help. The remote company found 45 of them

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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