Kangaroo Island ants 'play dead' to avoid predators
Published:30 May2023    Source:University of South Australia
They're well known for their industrious work, but now a species of ant on Kangaroo Island is also showing that it is skilled at 'playing dead', a behaviour that University of South Australia researchers believe is a recorded world first.
Accidentally discovered as researchers were checking pygmy-possum and bat nest boxes on Kangaroo Island, a colony of Polyrhachis femorata ants appeared to be dead… until one moved.

Researchers believe the ants were 'playing dead' as a defensive strategy to avoid potential danger. Assoc Prof Petit says that nest boxes may present an opportunity to study the ants' death-feigning behaviours, which are of great interest to many behavioural ecologists investigating a diversity of animal species.