Bateleur eagles, Terathopius ecaudatus, are generally the most recognised serpent eagle. Compared to other raptors, the eagles fly a massive range in search for food; individuals have been noted to fly up to 300 miles (500km) in a short period of time. It can take individuals up to eight years to fully moult their speckled brown feathers for their recognisable black and grey adult plumage. The species also has a very short tail compared to other birds, meaning they can walk in all directions without damaging their tail feathers. This is especially useful when hunting for small rodents or snakes which can easily scan the skies for predators. Bateleurs’ are opportunistic feeders; they will eat carrion they come across whether it be mammal, bird, reptile or fish, and will resort to hunting effectively if there is no food available. The species often spends a large deal of its time sunbathing, as the dark coloured plumage can rapidly gather heat. This can also aid the bird in hunting snakes with heat pits; the snake will generally strike for the hottest part of the animal, so an approaching Bateleur with outstretched wings is unlikely to be struck by the snake; it will often attempt to bite the heated wings instead of the body which is an effective defence for the bird against venomous prey.

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