Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eat, eat, eat. Relax.

Life is not so easy for carnivorous animals. They always have to be a step ahead of their prey, which is often very difficult. Success in hunting is not an everyday matter in spite of trials. If one meal lasts for two days there is no guarantee of a meal on third day. It could be a week or more before the next catch!

Adaptation is must for survival. It is simply a process whereby an organism becomes better suited to live in its habitat. Most of the predatory animals have developed one adaptive trait in common; being an 'opportunistic feeder'. This trait is extremely effective and can be commonly seen in almost all predators. I had seen several examples on T.V., crocs, komodos, hyenas, etc. stuffing themselves as much as they can. I always knew this for a fact but never put in any serious thoughts until a couple of weeks back; when I saw one of the best examples of opportunistic feeding in a much unexpected animal.

With the first rain showers, several thousands of winged male termites stormed Croc Bank. They were everywhere including my room. Our canteen lights were the greatest attractions. All the geckos were having an awesome time.

Hemidactylus leschenaultii (left) and Hemidactylus frenatus (right) gorging.

In minutes, many started losing their wings and then was the time for frogs and toads. I was having a great time too enjoying the feeding frenzy. It was crazy. All of the insectivorous population was out busy eating. Eating? No, I mean stuffing themselves. My bathroom-resident female Polypedates maculatus was no exception. I actually got to hand-feed her for the first time that day! That was so cool.

Duttaphrynus melanostictus was almost as round as a ball!

“Hey”  I thought “This would be  a great time to stuff up my scorpions too”.

Akanksha caught some termites and offered my adult female Heterometrus xanthopus.

I could not have imagined what I saw!

Heterometrus xanthopus playing a pig with at least five termites in her mouth!

This species does not use venom for small prey items so she was just catching the termites one by one and stuffing her mouth like mad. It looked so funny like a kid stuffing chocolates in his mouth. The big female Heterometrus laoticus did the same. I had never thought that scorpions would do this but later I realized the importance of such behavior. So much of easy food does not come your way every day, so go ahead and stuff yourself with as much as possible and no tension of feeding for over a week! That would be such a great relief in the wild; like for the geckos, toads and frogs.


Unknown said...

That was an amazing night!

madhu menon said...

Hi, this note took me to my childhood days, in to the remote village and my old house on the bank of the river. First monsoon rains and the next day, there used to be storming of winged termites, all of them rushing towards all available lights - oil lamps, electric bulb- and it was feast time for all our resident house geckos and our own toads and frogs from the courtyard. Occasionally, there used to some fights between the frogs and geckos, a sometime a live show of " the hunters and the hunted" with few snakes taking away the well eaten frogs...keep writing dear...

3B's said...

I remember seeing the nearly spherical melanostictus. awesome!

I remember seeing the almost spherical melanostictus!

xtremextasy said...

yea food is important after all lol.saw this baby lizard in my drawing room roaming around on the ceramics n feed on small ants[:o]
my sis threw a paper ball n it stuffed it in its mouth but soon realized n threw it back out.