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Snakes eat the organs of living toads-this is the first time in science

Although most snakes usually eat the entire prey, the striped kukri snake seems to have developed a particularly creepy eating habit that snakes have never seen before. A Danish-Thai research team led by Henrik Bringse in Thailand recorded three cases in which a snake with enlarged posterior teeth of the upper jaw opened the abdomen of a poisonous toad, then inserted its entire head and removed the organs one by one. As long as the victim is alive.

This finding was published in the open access and peer-reviewed journal Herpetozoa. In these bloody attacks, Toad desperately tried to escape instead of being taken out of his internal organs alive, but in all cases, it took up to several hours, depending on the organs that the snake took out first. The observed toad belongs to a fairly common species called Duttaphrynus melanost Stroke (Duttaphrynus melanost Stroke), which is known to secrete a powerful toxin from its prominent parotid gland. Located on the neck and entire back. Could it be that the venomous snake used this clever and cruel method to avoid poisoning?

The victim of this terrible esophagus is a poisonous toad called Duttaphrynus melanostictus, also known as the Asian common toad or the Asian black-spotted toad; according to the Animal Diversity Web (ADW), a wildlife database owned by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology , They are tough and thick, with a length of 57 to 85 mm. According to this research, toads “fight hard” for their lives, some of which secrete a toxic white substance.

The researchers write that a creepy snake viscera strategy may be a way to prevent toads from producing toxic secretions when eating delicious food. Oligodon kukri snakes are so named because their cutting teeth resemble the forward curved kukri scimitars from Nepal. Although kukri snakes are not a threat to humans, their teeth can cause painful wounds and excessive bleeding, because studies have shown that snakes secrete anticoagulants from special oral glands. “This secret is produced by two glands called duvernois glands located behind the eyes of the snake. It may be useful when the snake spends hours removing the organs of the toad,” Bringseau explained.


Macabre mealtime

Researchers described three kukri snakes (Oligodon fasciolatus) witnessed in Thailand. They can grow up to 115 cm in length by eating common Asian toads. They wrote that in the first incident in 2016, witnesses discovered that the toad had died at the scene, “but the ground around the two animals was covered with blood, indicating that a fight killed the toad.” Scientists.

The snake sliced ​​open the toad’s body and moved its head from side to side; then he slowly inserted his head into the wound, and then took out the liver, heart, lungs and part of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs. In the second situation, on April 22, 2020, the epic battle between the Kukri snake and the toad lasted for nearly three hours; the snake attacked, retreated, and attacked again, only temporarily blocked by the protection of toad venom.

The snake finally defeated the toad, and while the toad was still breathing, it took out and swallowed its internal organs. According to a study in 2020, the Kukri snake took a different approach. Instead of taking out the toad’s internal organs, it swallowed it whole. In the fourth observation that year, on June 19, the snake learned of its toad victim and dissected its abdominal cavity to obtain organ food.

Juvenile toads may produce less venom than adult toads, which may allow a snake observed on June 5 to safely swallow them whole; the researchers say that another possibility is that the Kukri snake has an effect on toad species Toxins are immune, but adult snakes come from the intestine anyway, because toads are too large to swallow, the researchers said, although there is not enough data to answer these questions. Brinzeau said, “We will continue to” observe and report on these amazing snakes, hoping to discover more interesting aspects of their biology,” he said. The results were published in the journal Herpetozoa on September 11. Live Science.





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