Flesh-eating pitcher plants living in a bog in Canada have for the first time been spotted regularly feasting on salamanders.
The carnivorous plant – also known as a “turtle sock plant” – was previously believed to feed almost exclusively on spiders and small insects who fell into their bell-shaped leaves and drowned in small pools of water. When researchers found creatures like rats and frogs in pitcher plants they assumed it was an accidental one-off.
However, biologists from the University of Guelph found these plants regularly devour young spotted salamanders, which they can digest in less than two weeks.
Twenty per cent of pitcher plants surveyed in a bog in Ontaraio’s Algonquin Provincial Park had salamanders in – and many traps contained more than one, according to the study published in the journal Ecology.
It’s still not known how the salamanders end up in the pools, but it could be because they were trying to catch insects attracted to the plant. Others may have entered in a bid to escape predators.