Some snakes eat toads by politely swallowing the creatures complete. Others noticed a gap in a toad’s stomach with their tooth, shove their heads in and gorge on organs and tissues — whereas the amphibian continues to be alive.
“Toads don’t have the identical emotions and might’t sense ache in the identical manner as we will,” says Henrik Bringsøe, an newbie herpetologist who lives in Køge, Denmark. “However nonetheless, it have to be essentially the most horrible manner of dying.”
In a brand new examine, printed September 11 in Herpetozoa, Bringsøe and his Thailand-based colleagues doc three such assaults on toads by small-banded kukri snakes (Oligodon fasciolatus). It’s the primary time that researchers have noticed this habits in snakes, although animals like crows or raccoons eat some toads similarly.
Small-banded kukri snakes are identified to make use of their tooth — which resemble curved kukri knives utilized by Nepalese Gurkha troopers — to tear into eggs. And like most snakes, O. fasciolatus additionally feed by swallowing their meals complete. The snakes could use the newly described methodology, the researchers say, to finest evade a toxin that the Asian black-spotted toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) secretes from glands on its neck and again (SN: 6/19/18).
One Asian black-spotted toad was already lifeless when the youngsters of coauthors Winai and Maneerat Suthanthangjai — each agricultural researchers at Loei Rajabhat College in Loei, Thailand — stumbled upon a snake feasting on its innards close to the town. However the entire space was bloody, and the snake had clearly dragged its prey round. It was clear “that it had been a real battlefield,” Bringsøe says.
Two different episodes at a close-by pond concerned residing Asian black-spotted toads. One battle that Winai watched lasted virtually three hours, as a snake battled with the toad’s poisonous defenses earlier than lastly successful. A kukri snake saws into its prey utilizing its tooth like a steak knife, he says, “slowing slicing backwards and forwards till it could possibly put its head in” and eat the organs.
The reptiles could assault on this method to assist them dodge a toad’s poison, Bringsøe says, however it additionally could also be a manner for the snakes to eat prey that’s too giant to swallow. A fourth snake was noticed by coauthor Kanjana Nimnuam, a colleague of the Suthanthangjais, swallowing a smaller black-spotted toad complete.