This is kind of awkward, especially because it has never happened before, and it looks very silly, but it’s a historic milestone in the world of nature. A park ranger in Peru got the shock of his life when he spotted a cane toad chomping down a yummy (well, at least in the cane toad’s mind) bat for dinner. The ranger immediately captured the bizarre moment on film by taking a picture of the gleeful toad with his mouth full. Ranger Yufani Olaya then took the picture to the Tambopata Research Center and consulted with Phil Torres, a biologist, who informed him that he had snapped what is most likely the first-ever picture of a cane toad eating a bat.
While biologists have always known that cane toads are basically the equivalent of beagles in that they will scarf down pretty much anything in their paths, finding one of these hungry hoppers munching on a whole bat is extremely rare. Torres says it looks as though the bat flew straight into the mouth of the toad, making the incident even more unique. Olaya explained that the toad was sitting down and he had his mouth wide open: “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.
On top of that, the tables have been turned in this instance, because bats frequently make meals out of toads! A researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute says, “My guess is that it is much more common the other way around – lots of bats will hunt frogs, going for the rustling sounds the frogs make as they move through the leaf litter, and some bats [like fringe-lipped bats] even go for the calls male frogs make to attract mates.”
University of Washington professor Adam Leache told NBC News that he has “never seen something like this before.” Another biologist posited that perhaps cane toads have actually evolved and adapted to be able to strategically hunt bats that are low-flying. But, he added, there is no direct evidence of that at this point and further study would need to be done to determine if that is the case.
The picture of this cane toad making a meal out of a poor adorable bat almost looks like a hybrid of the two animals or an alien being from some planet where mammals mate with amphibians, resulting in a bat/toad hybrid creature that can both hop and fly. That would be something, but in this case, it’s just a good old cane toad chomping down a yummy bat for dinner and giving park ranger Olaya quite a shock! Surely, biologists are going to be paying a lot more attention to these ravenous cane toads from now on. Maybe more pictures of this strange happening will be on the way soon. Or who knows, maybe the bats will plot some kind of revenge. What sorts of photos would that produce?
By: Rebecca Savastio