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Locked [Animals] The Australian bird that surprises scientists for its ability to eat poisonous toads


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Un ibis con un sapo en el pico

There are few animals more despised in Australia than the white ibis.

It has earned the nickname "garbage chicken" for its propensity to forage for food wherever it can, such as in garbage cans or even grabbing food out of people's hands.

But apparently this bird found a way to improve its reputation.

Cane toads were introduced to Australia in the 1930s, and because they have no natural predators in the country, they have wreaked havoc on native animal populations.

The toad's skin releases poison when threatened, killing most animals that come in contact with it with heart attacks.

Hence Emily Vincent's surprise when photos and videos of white ibises "playing" with these poisonous amphibians began to reach her.

Vincent, who runs invasive species programs at the environmental charity Watergum, says this behavior has been reported up and down Australia's east coast.

"An ibis was circling the toads, tossing them into the air, and people were just wondering what the hell they were doing," he told the BBC.

"After this they always cleaned the toads on the wet grass or went down to a nearby water source and rinsed the toads off."

She believes it is evidence of a "stress, wash and repeat" method that birds have evolved to rid toads of their toxins before swallowing them whole.

It's not the first time birds have been seen eating cane toads, Macquarie University professor Rick Shine told the BBC.

They seem to be less susceptible to poison than other animals, such as snakes, mammals, or crocodiles.

But they can die if consumed in excess. It also tastes "horrible", says Professor Shine.

As these toads spread across Australia, birds such as hawks and ravens quickly figured out how to eat them around the venom glands on their shoulders.

They put the toads on their backs and removed their intestines, without touching the glands.

But this is the first time that Professor Shine, who has studied toads for 20 years, has heard of birds using such a method to eat them whole.

"Ibis have an unfair reputation... [but] this shows that they are intelligent birds," says Vincent.

"In fact, they've forced the cane toad to get rid of the toxin itself, they haven't had to mutilate it in any way. The cane toad is doing all the work for them."


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