|Hungry snake...doomed frog|
January 23, 2012
People have it easy. If we're hungry, we go to the store, select food, go home and prepare a meal. If we're pressed for time, feeling lazy or indulgent, we eat at a restaurant.
That's not how it works for wild animals.
My husband called me away from the dinner I was preparing on a recent evening to come out to the porch.
"You've got to hear this sound," he said. "Some animal is screaming but I can't figure out what kind of animal or where it is."
We sat on the porch for about 15 minutes but didn't hear a thing.
"I guess it stopped," I said standing up, anxious to go back inside to check the vegetables roasting in the oven.
Just as I was about to leave, Ralph opened the porch door for one last look. That's when we heard it. Outside the door, a tiny young black racer snake had its mouth clenched around a green treefrog that was about 4 inches long. The snake, thinner than a pencil and less than a foot long, had a firm grasp on the frog's rear end. Despite the fact that all four of the frog's feet were free, its stance on life was fragile. Aware of the mortal danger it was in, the frog let out a mournful cry.
I had never before heard a frog screech. I didn't even know they could. Apparently, the situation triggered a primordial instinct. The clutch of a reptilian mouth caused the frog to emit a high-pitched scream. Black runner snakes overpower their victims by pressing their prey against the ground while holding them tightly within their jaws. It was a terrifying, life-threatening predicament for the frog.
For the snake, it meant dinner. No store-bought snack for this reptile. No drive-through dining or oven-roasted meal. Black racers eat rodents, lizards, frogs, birds and other snakes. They eat what they catch or they don't eat at all. For a snake — for any wild animal — dinner is not about preparation, presentation, mood or hour. It's all about survival, a do-or-die effort. It's not a pretty picture.
The snake, intent and patient, bit down on the frog, absorbing the amphibian's vital fluids.
Throughout it all, the frog was aware. Its eyes bulged, its legs twitched in frantic but fruitless attempts to flee. But the snake's hold was steadfast. I watched with horrified fascination, my camera tracking the frog's increasingly futile efforts to disengage and escape.
|Tiny snake....big meal|
In less than an hour, the snake had devoured the entire frog.
"Unbelievable," Ralph said as we watched the snake's muscles push the swallowed treefrog — now reduced to a large lump — down the narrow channel of its body.
"I never would have thought such a large frog could fit inside such a small snake," I responded as I pondered the frog's demise.
The snake remained on the concrete walkway silently digesting its meal. I returned to the kitchen, my own culinary efforts to check.
The snake and I had both spent about the same amount of time readying a meal that would provide us with sustenance. I cut up vegetables. The snake captured prey.
"People sure have it easy," I said to myself as I opened the oven door, the vegetables roasted to perfection.
I called to Ralph, "Dinner's ready!"