Friday, November 16, 2007

Death Adder's Eating Habits

For some snakes the ingestion of their prey could be the recipe for their own death. In the case for one Australian snake it has evolved a specific behavioral trait that enables it to continue on with its life. The death adder likes to dine on frogs, however some of these desired meals are highly toxic. In response to this the death adder altered its feeding pattern by simply waiting to ingest its prey. The death adder stabs its prey with its hollow fangs and injects its venom into it killing it instantly. In response to this the frogs native to that area have evolved certain traits that aid in their survival. Some frogs have evolved longer legs for bigger jumps or chemical substances that taste bad and or kill its predator.

Two ecologists Ben Phillips and Richard Shine from the University of Sydney in Australia decided to study the snake’s general feeding behavior. They placed it into a glass tank and fed it a variety of different types of frogs. Some of these frogs were poisoness while others were not. When the non-poisoness ones were dropped in their tanks they attacked and killed it and instantly ingested it. For two other species the death adders knew to alter their habits. The marbled frog produced a gluelike substance on its skin when irritated. In response the death adder would kill it and wait ten minutes to eat it. These ten minutes were a specific amount of time that the gluelike substance needed in order to degrade and loose its stickiness. When the adder would eat the deadly Dahl’s aquatic frog, it would wait 40 minutes after killing it to ingest it. The reason being is, it takes at least 40 minutes for the frogs poison to degrade into something that the snake can safely eat. These results revealed the snakes unusual ability to adapt to its habitat and out evolve other species quicker.

Posted by Francis Rogers


At 7:18 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Wow, thats pretty cool. I wonder what the snakes are looking at to make decisions about how to kill and eat their prey. This is a good case of an evolutionary arms race. It would be interesting to see how the frog species the snake eats have changed their defense mechanisms to evade this predator.

Courtney Huffman

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's very interesting that snakes show this kind of behavior. It's almost that they can rationalize about certain species of frogs and how to react when confonted by different species.

posted by Jessica Johnson (8)

At 10:00 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This is a very interesting article, what make them notice the toxic will degrade after 40 mins, cause the snake who ate it before will die so how do they learn this from and does other species have this too.

Posted By Kyle Chiang (8)

At 11:28 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Very good example of arms race evolution. It is very interesting to see how even today the animals are still evolving and they almost do so in front of our eyes. How long did it take these snakes to learn when is the optimal time to eat the deadly frogs?

Posted by Carmen B. Arsuaga

At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I wonder if the snakes learned this behavior previously or it is in their neuronal makeup to know when to avoid eating specific species of frogs for a specific amount of time.

Posted by Christine Tauras (8)


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