Bizarre Picture of Cane Toad Snacking on Bat Creates a Buzz

First Posted: Sep 25, 2013 06:09 AM EDT

Looking at the creature in the picture you might think that it is a new species of a toad with huge ears and a pointed tongue. This is exactly what a park ranger Yufani Olaya thought when he stumbled upon this alien-looking toad with wings in the Peruvian rainforest.   

But a closer look cleared his misconception and the quick witted ranger quickly captured the rare sighting of a cane toad snacking on a bat.  It was not an alien toad but rather a greedy one feasting on a hapless bat.

Olaya got this rare sighting at a remote guard station while on an inspection at the Cerros de Amotape National Park.  A Peru-based naturalist Phil Torres  posted this  bizarre image on his blog post.

This is the first photographed record of a cane toad gulping a bat down. Torres was puzzled at how a bat was captured by a ground-dwelling toad. 

Olaya explained, "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."

On seeing the bat directly landing in the toad's mouth Olaya initially thought that it was dead. But both the toad and the bat struggled and the toad was unsuccessful in gulping the big bat and spat it out. Later the bat managed to recover and fly off, away from the clutches of the toad.

"Toads are voracious and will eat pretty much anything that moves and can fit in their mouth," Adam Leaché, assistant professor of herpetology at the University of Washington, wrote in an email to NBC News. But, he added, "I've never seen something like this before."

Native to Central and South America, cane toads are highly toxic animals as they carry poison glands. This invasive species generally locate food using sense of smell. They ingest small reptiles, rodents, amphibians and birds. They even feed on plants and dog food. Since they lack teeth they generally swallow the prey. In this case the cane toad got unlucky as the bat was too big for it to swallow.

Such rare predation events are interesting for biologists. A recent rare predation event was a golden eagle latching itself on to a young sika deer and killing it. This was the eagles' unique attempt at hunting.

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