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Unexpected diets

Unexpected diets

Survival of lifeforms is directly correlated to the directional paths of trophic energy, or food chains, with a sequence of links starting with basal species and producers and ending with consumer organisms, with the apex predators at the top of the chain. Here is a look at the ways of predators and their preys.

Every predator on this planet has its own set of diet menu. But, at times nature doesn’t fail to surprise us when predators feast upon animals which we wouldn’t expect.

Unexpected diets

      Female Python

The African rock python not only feast on medium to large sized rodents but also antelopes, monkeys, wild pigs, bats etc. Two years back in Kenya, there was an unexpected case of an African Rock python feasting on a male Spotted hyena. Observers were shocked by the scene as to how the snake could hunt such a large animal. A possibility is that the hyena was driven out of the clan and thus was wandering alone. The snake thus took an opportunity and got its prized meal.  So they filmed the entire scene and the video became viral. Commenting on this video, researchers concluded that this large serpent has the capability of preying on large sized animals.

The Orca, which is another word for a Killer whale is truly a killer in marine habitats. It is an apex predator with adults having no natural predators. They  hunt in groups called pods and feast on almost anything that are found in marine habitats like squids, fishes, Pinnipeds, (seals, sea lions), dolphins, marine birds (penguins and others) and also some large whales.  It was also found that these predatory cetaceans also prey upon deer like moose when they cross from one island to another.

Unexpected diets

                                 Orca porpoising

What is more unexpected about their diet is that they feast even on the large species of sharks like the Great white shark. Anyone would wonder as to how come white sharks that were thought as the top predators of the sea would become prey.  Yes, the largest species of sharks do fall prey to orcas.  These black & white predators feast upon specific body parts of a shark like livers which are rich in vitamins.  Cases have been recorded where orcas have killed great white sharks possibly by inducing tonic immobility, biting at the shark’s pectoral fin and feasting on their livers inside. Also, these large sharks would get scared and swim to other areas not only when orcas are present but also even when an orca pod is just passing through. They won’t return back for a year as they are sure of the orca’s presence.  Poor sharks!

 

Raptors like eagles also have unusual diets.  Though they primarily prey on rodents and lagomorphs(rabbits and hares), many unexpected prey species which they feast on have been discovered.  Eagles like golden eagle’s menu is so large that they predate even on adults of foxes, weasels, roe deer and coyotes and other large migratory birds like swans and cranes too. Even reptiles like tortoises and venomous snakes like rattlesnakes and adders (a venomous snake of woodlands of Northern Hemisphere)have showed up in their nests.

Similar case is with owls too. The Great Horned owl is known for its unexpected diet of skunks. Thanks to the owl’s poor sense of smell which protects it from this prey’s defensive stink.

Image Credit for orca : Minette Layne from Seattle, Washington, USA [CC BY 2.0(https://creativecommons.orglicenses/by/2.0)]

Image Credit for Python :  Tigerpythonderivative work: Material scientist [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

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