Garter Snakes Absorb Newt Toxins as a Defence Against Birds

A new twist to the toxic arms race between Common Garter Snakes and Rough-skinned Newts, the San Francisco Chronicle reports: “One group of the garter snakes has evolved immunity to the TTX poison,” the tetrodotoxin secreted by newts, which was new; but it turns out that “when the snakes eat the newt, they retain enough poison to cause predatory birds to vomit and even die after eating the snake’s liver.” And birds sure do love them some garter snake liver: crows have been observed in Manitoba ripping the livers out of live snakes, leaving the rest behind. (The article also discusses a Japanese natricine that absorbs toxins from toads.)