A fox has 62 centipedes in its stomach. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia
A fox has 62 centipedes in its stomach. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia

Crazy find in dead fox’s stomach

When Kate Taylor started going through this fox's stomach, she was "blown away".

The project officer at Bush Heritage's Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia is used to finding insects or small mammals but was shocked to pull out 63 centipedes.

This particular fox also had two small mammals and one gecko, making it one hungry pest.

The find highlights how dangerous predators are to our native species.

"​Analysing stomach contents of predatory pest species is really important for a number of reasons," Ms Taylor said.

"Firstly, it tells us which native species they are eating and therefore impacting.

"It shows the difference of prey species between feral cats and foxes and we can also look at prey type across different seasons.

"It is also unfortunately another way of sampling for species that we have out on our nature reserves."

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A fox had 63 centipedes in its stomach. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia
A fox had 63 centipedes in its stomach. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia

 

Kate Taylor with a thorny devil. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia
Kate Taylor with a thorny devil. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia

Ms Taylor said they had previously found small mammal species within a stomach that had either not been recorded before or rarely recorded using traditional methods for fauna trapping.

She said this fox was found while spotlighting on the reserve in 2018, with its stomach then removed and frozen for analysis.

All animals she dissects have been collected through Bush Heritage Australia's predator control program.

"This particular animal was a female and weighed 4kg however now we can minus 155g, the combined weight of the 63 centipedes, off the weight," she said.

"We believe the species are from the scolopendridae family of centipedes with the larger of them being ethmostigmus rubripes, the Australian giant centipede.

"This is not the first time I have found a lot of centipedes in a fox or feral cat stomach as centipedes form part of diets of both animals, however they are found more often in fox stomachs."

 

The fox also had eaten some small mammals and a gecko. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia
The fox also had eaten some small mammals and a gecko. Picture: Bush Heritage Australia

Ms Taylor said foxes were also known to eat scorpions.

It might not be a job for everyone, but Ms Taylor said she loved it.

"While dissecting and analysing stomach contents is quite messy and smelly work not for the faint-hearted, it is always fascinating to see what these animals have been eating," she said.

"When we tipped out the contents of this particular stomach I was completely blown away."

This find comes after a researcher discovered 17 lizards inside a feral cat in New Zealand.

The cat's stomach was cut open to see if it had eaten any native animals after it was caught near a known habitat of a protected lizard species.

Originally published as Crazy find in dead fox's stomach


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