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Bits & Pieces: Bat-eating toad

Ann Welch ann4plus1@yahoo.com
Ann Welch ann4plus1@yahoo.com
A toad attempting to swallow a bat. Photo submitted
A toad attempting to swallow a bat. Photo submitted

My resident supplier of interesting articles sent me another intriguing story recently, one about a very large toad in a national park in Peru eating a bat. Cane toads are the largest of all toads, weighing in at an amazing 4.4 pounds. They are native to South America, and will eat almost anything that will fit in their mouths. The picture accompanying the article documents a cane toad eating a bat for the first time, reported Peru-based biologist Phil Torres who published it. Torres contacted the park ranger, Yufani Olaya, for more details on how the toad managed to snag the bat. Olaya said the bat apparently flew directly into the toad’s mouth, which seemed to be sitting with its mouth wide open as the bat flew too close to the ground. With the fast reflexes toads rely on to catch their prey the toad was able to snatch the bat right out of the air.

So the big question: did the toad finally swallow the bat? Park ranger Olaya says no, the toad finally gave up and spat the bat out, which slowly recovered and was able to fly away! Don Wilson, curator emeritus of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, agreed that it’s “certainly plausible” that a cane toad could eat a bat. The bat was a free-tailed bat, a type that flies high and fast, which could have crash landed and encountered the toad nearby. This anecdote certainly shows that cane toads are”notoriously opportunistic” feeders, which causes them to be very problematic in areas where they are not native, such as Australia. Check out the picture below of the toad doing his best to accommodate a very large meal.

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