Usually, snakes eat their prey by swallowing them whole. But for knife-toothed kukri snakes, they devour their prey by eating their internal organs while the frog is still alive. Scientists first spotted this behavior in Thailand and then go on to spot another two more kukri snakes that feast on the organs of toads and frogs, Live Science reported.
This new and gory way of killing their prey appears to be more widespread than expected. The scientists also observed that two kukri snakes eventually eat the frogs whole, which baffles them even more as to why would the snakes extract their living prey's organs first.
"Toads don't have the same feelings and can't sense pain in the same way as we can," amateur herpetologist Henrik Bringsøe said. "But still, it must be the most horrible way of dying."
He noted that this is the first time this kind of behavior is observed in reptiles. Although other animals, such as crows and raccoons, eat toads in such a fashion.
The study, entitled "Eviscerated alive: Novel and macabre feeding strategy in Oligodon fasciolatus (Günther, 1864) eating organs of Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799) in Thailand, was published in the journal Herpetozoa.
Grisly Snake Kills Frogs In the Most Horrible Way
Bringsøe and his colleagues documented a Taiwanese kukri snake Oligodon formosanus) and an ocellated kukri snake (Oligodon ocellatus) tearing open their prey's stomach and burying their heads inside to eat the frogs' and toads' organs.
The amphibians were said to be still alive while this horrifying feeding was happening. The researchers said that sometimes this behavior would take hours.
In the said study, the researchers said that they captured a video of the snake and frog tussle for about 40 minutes and performed 15 body rotations or "death rolls."
The researchers noted that this might be the snake's way of shaking the organs loose in order to swallow them one by one.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the horrific way of kukri snakes killing their prey could be their way to avoid the toxic secretions of the toads. In all three of their observations, the researchers noted that the Asian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) was always the victim. This toad releases a potent milky poison on its back and neck.
Getting to Know Kukri Snakes
According to Science News, small-banded kukri snakes use their teeth, which resembles the curved kukri knife commonly used by Nepalese Gurkha soldiers, to tear into eggs.
Kukri blades make very deep slashes as tools or weapons. This is a similar characteristic that kukri snakes possess as they have sharp and curved teeth that possess glands that produce anticoagulants, making their prey bleed freely. The feeding method of kukri snakes may be unusual, but it seems to help them evade toxins from the frogs and toads.
Like most common snakes, O. fasciolatus also eat their prey by swallowing it whole. This baffled the researchers who said further investigations and observations are needed to answer questions surrounding this bizarre behavior of kukri snakes.
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