Selective feeding in Keelback snakes Tropidonophis mairii in an Australian wetland

Pearcy, Ashley (2011) Selective feeding in Keelback snakes Tropidonophis mairii in an Australian wetland. Australian Zoologist, 35 (3). pp. 843-845.

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Abstract

[Extract] Toad Bufo marinus population control is a constant in Australian invasive species management. Predator populations are the most likely group to be affected by the growing number of cane toads (Phillips et al. 2003). One of those predators, the Keelback snake Tropidonophis mairii is exceptionally resistant to toad toxin and thus able to consume B. marinus without immediate adverse reactions (Covacevich and Archer 1975; Shine 1991; Phillips el at Z003). The ability of Keelbacks to consume toads, however, is often confused with toads being a common source of Keelback diet.

Keelbacks only grow to an average size (SVL) of 519 mm (Shine 1991) while toads can grow to 230 mm in body length (Zug and Zug 1979). The small size difference between predator and prey may reduce the number of edible toads. At the same time, it decreases the chance that a Keelback will consume a toad with lethal doses of toxin (Phillips and Shine 2004). A shared habitat may actually be the main reason for toad consumption by Keelbacks rather than a diet preference (Covacevich and Archer 1975). A controlled study showed limited nutritional value of toads for Keelbacks and suggested that optimal foraging behaviour should lead to a feeding preference for native anurans (Llewelyn et al. 2009). The aim of this project is to determine feeding habits of Keelbacks in the wild with specific concern to toads.

Item ID: 20817
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0067-2238
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Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2012 00:05
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 60%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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