It has been found that a kukri snake eats toads by cutting them and eating its organs individually while they are still alive.
The kukri snake uses its large upper knife-shaped teeth to cut and defuse its prey. After that, the snake plunges its head into the abdominal cavity of its prey and devours its contents of an organ.
This happens while the helpless Toad is still alive, and after the snake has had its fill, the remaining parts of the toad’s body are left to rot.
A new study on Kukri
According to the lead author of the study, naturalist and Amateur herpetologist Henrik Bringsøe, humans do not have to treat this small colubrid snake, because it is harmless to humans.
The researchers published their description of macabre and novel eating behavior in their new study, published last September in Herpetozoa 11.
A New Feeding Technique
The study recorded the new, albeit horrible, eating habit that was not known until now in snakes. Snakes have only been observed to snatch pieces of meat from prey or swallow them most often.
In the past, researchers have never seen a snake bury its head in the body of its prey to sip its organs.
According to the authors of the study, this process in the Kukri sometimes takes hours.
The unfortunate prey is the venomous Toad, the black-spotted or common Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus). It is a thick-skinned, vigorous toad with a length of two to three inches (or 57-85 mm).
However, the toad does not perish without a action. It vigorously action the Predator, some secreting their white toxin as a defense mechanism.
According to the authors, the strategy of eviscerating their toxic prey may be a way for the snake to avoid toxic secretions while enjoying their meal.
Kukri snakes belong to the genus Oligodon. The word “kukri” refers to the Nepalese machete bent forward, caused by the sharp teeth of this group of snakes.
The study says kukri snakes are not deadly to humans, although their bite can lead to wounds that bleed profusely. Bleeding is due to the anticoagulant secreted behind the snake’s eyes by special oral glands called Duvernoy glands.
The study recorded four feeding observations of Kukri snakes in Thailand (Oligodon fasciolatus).
The premiere took place in 2016. Observers found the already dead toad, where the environment littered with blood, at a bird action. The snake was seen sawing through its victim’s body and doing it side by side with its head. After that, his head slowly entered the opening, where he then pulled out the heart, lungs, liver and part of the intestine of the toad.
On April 24, 2020, the action between the predator and the prey lasted almost three hours. The snake alternated between attacks and retreat, temporarily deterred only by the defense of the toad. After winning the action, the snake continued to feed while its prey was still breathing.
On June 5, 2020, the third sighting took place when the snake did not discover the toad and devoured it completely.
In the fourth observation of June 19, the same evisceration took place.
The researchers hypothesized that the young Toad eaten in the third incident may have had less venom than the mature, which probably allowed the snake to swallow it safely. It is also possible that the snake is immune to the toxins of the toad, but still escapes because it cannot be swallowed due to its size.
Further studies and observations on the interactions of this snake and its prey toads are needed to confirm these possibilities.