Scientists said the native otters of Western Australia have discovered a new technique to eat sugarcane toads that are toxic.
In just two years, the Australian otter , or 'rakali,' discovered a new way to eat the cane toad, a highly toxic creature. After ' killing ' the prey, the rakali removes the gallbladder and digs out the heart to eat with incredible precision.
The cane toad appeared first in Queensland in 1930 and is heading towards Western Australia, damaging native animals and putting some species at risk of extinction. Predator species are wary of this species because their skin and especially their gallbladder contain toxins, making it difficult for sugarcane toads to destroy and increasingly widespread in nature.
Australian otter, the famously intelligent animal weighing nearly 1kg, has small legs, very sharp teeth and claws. It seems they have taken advantage of this to ' handle' the cane toad. " They flip their prey, remove the gallbladder, then extract the heart and liver ," said Dr. Marissa Parrot, co-author of the study on the phenomenon in Rakali, in the Australian Mammalogy newspaper.
'Most of the corpses we found had accurate incisions in the chest area of 10.8 mm long and 12.2 mm wide.'
The theory is that the water rat learned to recognize which parts of the cane toad can't eat - or had similar experience 'handling' the poisonous Australian frog.
Australian otters have found a new way to safely eat sugarcane toad - removing gallbladder and slitting heart.(Photo: Flikr).
The scientists found no scratches or gnawing marks on the cane's head or cane body, suggesting the otters seem to have flipped and dug their hearts out while they were alive . The study adds that rakali tends to reach adult cane toads due to their large internal organs, making it easier for them to remove the gall bladder while eating more heart and liver.
The problem is that the number of cane toads in the wild is huge, with hundreds of millions in Western Australia. Parrot hopes the native otters will pass the skill on to their fellow humans and their offspring.
'The otter parents spend a lot of time looking after their children. Perhaps they will teach you how to destroy cane toad very effectively '.
Many other things like crows and hawks have the same skill when flipping cane toes to avoid the skin and choose to eat non-toxic organs, the report said.
Indigenous otter species are at risk of reduction in quantity due to water pollution. They are also frequently caught in fish nets or balloons, or hunted by feral cats, foxes and dogs.
'This study proves rakali's great intelligence,' Marissa Parrot said. 'Many people don't even know that there are otters in Australia. This story shows that we should protect them, an animal that is not only intelligent but also very beautiful. '