September 25, 2013
Photo Op Of The Century: Amazing Photo Shows Cane Toad Attempting To Eat Flying Bat
[ Watch the Video: Cane Toad Couldn't Stomach This Bat ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe OnlineTalk about a Kodak moment – a park ranger working in the Peruvian rainforest managed to capture a picture of a cane toad attempting to dine on a bat, complete with the airborne rodent’s wings sticking out of its mouth.
According to Phil Torres of Rainforest Expeditions, the picture was taken by park ranger Yufani Olaya at a remote guard station in Cerros de Amotape National Park. Olaya told Torres that the bat, which had been flying too low to the ground, basically flew directly into the toad’s open mouth.
“With toad-like reflexes, this cane toad was able to snatch the unsuspecting bat right out of the air as it flew too close to the ground, and apparently directly at the toad's awaiting mouth,” Torres said. “So, did the toad finally get those wings in its mouth? According to Olaya, no. The toad finally gave up and spat it out.”
In an email to the Huffington Post, Torres said that while people working in the Peruvian rainforests are used to encountering unusual things, that this was one of the oddest feeding interactions he had ever seen. However, he also noted that other biologists have contacted him, trying to one-up the bat-eating toad.
“Since I first posted the image over the weekend, I've received messages from biologists who have also seen bats getting eaten in unusual ways – one by a large frog in Costa Rica, and another by a woodpecker in Texas,” he said. “These types of unexpected species interactions probably occur much more often than we think, it's just that we're not always lucky enough to have a camera alongside to capture the moment.”
As for the toad and the bat captured in the iconic image, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday that both creatures experienced some discomfort, but managed to survive the encounter. In fact, according to the UK newspaper, the bat managed to fly away shortly after escaping the jaws of the terrestrial amphibian.
“Toads are voracious and will eat pretty much anything that moves and can fit in their mouth, [but] I've never seen something like this before,” Adam Leaché, assistant professor of herpetology at the University of Washington, told NBC News via email.
“Cane toads don't have teeth, so the strategy is crush and swallow. The bat was a little big for that. The toad may have tried to reposition its mouth to swallow and that was when the bat was able to escape,” added Leaché’s colleague Charles Linkem. “It could be this population of toads have developed a strategy for feeding on low flying bats and that this is more common, but never observed before now.”