“All of a sudden, I was like, What is that hanging out of its mouth?” says Bogan, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona.
Black, sticklike appendages protruded from the toad’s face—an animal was still alive, wiggling inside. He realized the toad was attempting to gulp down a live western desert tarantula.
As the spider struggled, Bogan witnessed the toad close its eyes, wincing with pain, and its elastic throat stretched out in the shape of spider fangs. It appeared the tarantula was trying to bite its captor from the inside.
“We don’t know whether the tarantula released any venom or not, but it wouldn’t have to,” says Jerome Rovner, an arachnologist and emeritus professor at Ohio University, who saw pictures of the incident. “The urticating hairs are all that’s needed for it to defend itself.”
Urticating hairs, bristly and very sharp, cover a tarantula’s abdomen and legs and make the spider very unappetizing for any potential predator.
“It would be like trying to eat fiberglass,” says Rovner.
After getting poked with both tarantula fangs and bristles, the toad opened its mouth to release its prey. The arachnid skittered away, covered in slime and gastrointestinal juices, with two of its legs seemingly injured or impaired.
read more: news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/toads-eating-tarantulas-alive-battle/
article: Kristin Hugo
photo: Michael Bogan