Scientists have witnessed a never-before-seen behavior in snakes, in which the serpents slice open toads and eat their organs one-by-one – all while their prey is still alive
Scientists have witnessed a never-before-seen behavior in snakes, in which the serpents slice open toads and eat their organs one-by-one – all while their prey is still alive.
While most snakes swallow their prey whole, researchers from Denmark have discovered that the small-banded Kukri Snake seems to have evolved a particularly gruesome feeding habit.
During an expedition to Thailand, the researchers documented three occasions where a snake used its teeth to cut open the abdomen of a large poisonous toad, before inserting its entire head in.
The snake then pulled out the toad’s organs one-by-one, in a process that could last for hours.
While the toads struggled to escape, on all occasions their efforts were in vain.
In a fourth case, an adult kukri snake was seen to attack a smaller toad, but this time the serpent swallowed the entire toad.
The reason for this remains unclear, although the researchers suggest that smaller toads may be less toxic, or may simply be easier to swallow whole than larger toads.
Henrik Bringsøe, who led the study, said: “At present, we cannot answer any of these questions, but we will continue to observe and report on these fascinating snakes in the hope that we will uncover further interesting aspects of their biology.”
Thankfully, kukri snakes are harmless to humans, according to the researchers.
Professor Bringsøe added: “However, I wouldn’t recommend being bitten by one of those. The thing is that they can inflict large wounds that bleed for hours, because of the anticoagulant agent these snakes inject into the victim’s bloodstream.
“Their teeth are designed to inflict lacerations rather than punctures, so your finger would feel as if cut apart!
“This secretion, produced by two glands, called Duvernoy’s glands and located behind the eyes of the snakes, are likely beneficial while the snakes spend hours extracting toad organs.”