Batman may have some amphibious competition.
A photo of “bat toad” that has been circulating online shows a cane toad feasting on a bat in Peru’s Cerros de Amotape National Park. The toad was sitting on the ground with its mouth open waiting for insects to eat when a bat entered his airspace, and park ranger Yufani Olaya was there with his camera.
"Toads are voracious and will eat pretty much anything that moves and can fit in their mouth," Adam Leaché, assistant professor of herpetology at the University of Washington, told NBC News. "I've never seen something like this before."
The toad reportedly lunged at the bat and clamped its jaw down. Its wings and tail stuck out as Olaya snapped a photo of the moment.
"We encounter a lot of bizarre things while working in the Peruvian rainforests, but this one is easily the [strangest] feeding interaction I've seen," Phil Torres, who works at the Tambopata Research Center in the Peruvian Amazon and distributed the photo, told The Huffington Post.
Olaya said the toad eventually spat out the bat, apparently wasn’t to his taste, and the bat flew off. "Cane toads don't have teeth, so the strategy is crush and swallow," Charles Linkem, postdoctoral fellow at UW's biology department told NBC News. "The bat was a little big for that. The toad may have tried to reposition its mouth to swallow and that was when the bat was able to escape."
And this Peruvian toad isn’t the first animal to try and chow down on bats. "Since I first posted the image over the weekend, I've received messages from biologists who have also seen bats getting eaten in unusual ways -- one by a large frog in Costa Rica, and another by a woodpecker in Texas,” Torres said. “These types of unexpected species interactions probably occur much more often than we think; it's just that we're not always lucky enough to have a camera alongside to capture the moment."
Sometimes the tables are turned and toads become the victims of hungry bats, Rachel Page, a researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama told LiveScience.
"My guess is that it is much more common the other way around, that lots of bats will hunt frogs, going for the rustling sounds the frogs make as they move through the leaf litter, and some bats [like fringe-lipped bats] even go for the calls male frogs make to attract mates," Page said.
As for the Peruvian toad, Torres believes it learned its lesson. “I'm sure it won't make that mistake again,” he wrote on his blog.