In a forest in Sri Lanka, a common freshwater crab (Ceylonthelphusa sentosa) snatches the tail of a Schokar’s Bronzeback snake (Dendrelaphis schokari). The snake makes vigorous body movements trying to escape. The crab’s claws don’t break through the snake’s tail, so the crab bides its time, holding fast. The snake continues to thrash and stretch itself away from the crab, trying to head into nearby woody debris.
One minute, two minutes, three minutes pass. Four minutes….five minutes…..the crab begins to move to its hole with the weakening snake.
At this moment, the crab realizes it has an audience: members of the Department of Biological Sciences at Rajarata University of Sri Lanka in Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve for research. Distracted, the crab releases the snake’s tail. The snake quickly moves off into the forest.
Herpetological Review published this observation because predation by freshwater crabs on snakes has rarely been documented. But perhaps there’s something more, a metaphor for a lousy situation or the end of the week. Just keep moving enthusiastically – the situation is bound to change unexpectedly!
Citation: De Zoysa, H., D. Samarasinghe, and S. Wickramasinghe. Dendrelaphis schokari. Predation. 2015. Herpetological Review 46(4): 642-643.