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Toad swallows more bat than it can handle; park ranger gets crazy pic

toad

It’s not a winged toad — it’s a cane toad with a bat in its mouth. The toad spat the bat, which then flew away. (Yufani Olaya / PeruNature.com)

By Deborah Netburn

Los Angeles Times

Talk about a bat aftertaste.

That strange looking photo you see above is a cane toad attempting to eat a bat in the Peruvian rain forest.

Fortunately for the bat, the toad was not successful. Moments after park ranger Yufani Olaya snapped this bizarre picture, the toad spat the bat out, and it eventually flew away.

Olaya told conservation biologist Phil Torres that the toad didn’t even have to work for its almost-bat-dinner.

“Out of nowhere the bat just flew directly into the mouth of the toad, which almost seemed to be sitting with its mouth wide open,” Olaya said.

If you’re wondering how a flying bat wound up in a grounded toad’s mouth, herpetologist Greg Pauly of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said it is not necessarily so odd.

“Cane toads will spend time at pools and creeks, where they forage for food and also breed,” he wrote in an email to The Times. “Many bats also spend a lot of time around water where they also forage.”

Pauly said it is possible the bat was foraging close to the ground where the cane toad was able to grab it, or that both animals were at a water source and the bat was flying low to take a drink of water.

Although the cane toad mostly munches on insects, Pauly said the large amphibian has also been known to take out small vertebrates as well.

Since this strange photo has started making its way around the Web, Torres has come across at least one paper that describes another example of a frog attacking a bat, this time in Brazil. (And yes, there are photos).

He has also been contacted by researchers who observed a large frog eating a bat in Costa Rica, and a woodpecker snacking on a bat in Texas.

“I’m sure this type of unusual opportunistic predation probably occurs more than we know,” Torres said, “It’s just that it can be difficult to observe and it is rare to be lucky enough to have a camera at the time.”

 

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