Yes, tropical pitcher plants *do* eat rodents!

In a recent post, I showed a photo of a painted pitcher plant (Nepenthes burbidgeae) in the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory:

Nepenthes burbidgeae at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory

This carnivorous plant from the highlands of Borneo has a pitcher large enough to hold a small animal. 

I haven't been able to determine what exactly this species of Nepenthes “eats,” but you might have seen the video below that has been making the rounds on Facebook, reddit, and other content aggregators in the last few days:

It shows a Nepenthes hybrid, Nepenthes truncata × lowii, at California Carnivores in Sebastopol, CA that caught a rat or a mouse earlier this year. In the video, Damon Collingsworth, co-owner and general manager of California Carnivores, cuts open the pitcher to see what's left of the rodent. It's a pretty amazing thing to see. (Don't worry, it isn't gross.)

If you want to find out more about carnivorous plants, Damon Collingsworth is the featured guest in this episode of the In Defense of Plants podcast.

And if you want to see pretty darn amazing footage of a rat getting trapped in a Nepenthes, watch this video on the Smithsonian Channel (skip to the 2:30 mark if you're impatient).

I'm trying hard not to get sucked into the world of carnivorous plants, but like the bee teetering on the lip of the pitcher plant in the Smithsonian video, I'm on slippery ground.

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  1. I've always heard about this in the gardening circuit through the years but never really looked into it. Have even read a few times that this was a myth. It's good to see some evidence that it does, fascinating!!

  2. They are the most beautiful rat traps ever!

    1. For sure! But not the best for mass capture of rats and mice!

  3. Well, that's one form of critter control. I wonder exactly how long it takes the plant to do its job?

  4. Don't think there is a more fascinating group of plants out there. It would be easy for you to dip your toes.


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