Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snake Eats Frog

If you are a little squeamish with the natural order of things, such as something eating something else, you might want to skip this one.

I switched up a field day from Friday to today given the rain predictions for week's end and a glorious day today. I drove north on Route 16 to Effingham; Mt. Chorcorua's rugged top was crystal clear while fog hung in the valleys. Red maples have turned red along the Ossipee River. I stepped out of the car to a surprisingly warm sun. Mosquitoes were out but not in force and not too pesky.

I set off into the woods gathering information about habitats and property boundaries. Part of preparing a wildlife habitat stewardship plan for a landowner. Seeing and hearing signs of wildlife is actually a bonus for my work. I take note of what creatures I encounter to reinforce my maps and notes about the habitats. Today I walked a woodland trail that the landowner calls "Moose Highway." It is rightly named as I saw fresh moose tracks in the soft mud along a stretch of this trail. There were smaller deer tracks too. And a spectacularly clear set of black bear tracks in the mud. All of these big mammals must have passed through just hours before me. After these sightings I made a little more noise as I walked, just in case they were still nearby. No need to startle a big animal.

When I walked back on this trail to a main woods road I stopped to listen to a soft, but piercing cry. It was nearby, and low, close to or on the ground. I waited and heard the sound again, but saw nothing. I peered under a small tree and heard a slight rustle and then I saw it. Click to enlarge the photo below and you will see what I saw.

A wood frog was half inside the mouth of a garter snake. Neither was moving much. It is a slow (painful for the frog I assume) process as the snake inches the frog backwards into its mouth. The wood frog (note its black mask below the eye and light brown body) emits a piercing cry supposedly to startle a predator into releasing it. Not sure how often that strategy works. This snake wasn't about to release this frog.

I didn't stay long to watch this predator-prey interaction unfold. The snake must eat and so goes life in the wild. And I had more habitats to map.


  1. Hmmm! You wonder if asked, the snake would say that it tastes just like chicken?! :-)

    Excellent posting, Ellen. And, by the way, it sounds like you have a terrific job!

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. John -- I felt kind of funny taking the picture, because it looked like both the snake and frog paused in their respective struggles to look at me! I do feel fortunate with my work, especially when so many people are struggling without jobs. I get to do something outdoors that is fun and interesting and healthy.

  3. Sad scenario, but the way of life. On my walk today, while taking photos of mushrooms and fungus, I found a raccoon's tail lying on the path.

  4. Wanda - a raccoon's tail - a great find! That is the sort of thing might young niece would be thrilled to find and she would remember the walk because of finding such a treasure.