Oct 21

Crone hears screams, discovers horrific tableau

Another day, another disturbing new nature fact! Here’s what you learn when you poke around the carport in search of the source of an unfamiliar and alarming squealing sound:

Patch-nose snakes eat leopard frogs alive. It takes a while for the snake to swallow the whole frog. During the process the fully-conscious frog screams in a pretty blood-curdling fashion. If you experience a pang of sentimentality, and you poke the snake with a stick in an effort to get it to release the frog, the snake will not release the frog, but instead will clamp down even harder and retreat with the victim into the nearest drainpipe.* Whereupon you will feel even worse. You will wish — not for the first time since you moved to Dreadful Acres — that you had just left Nature to commit its grisly act of indifference alone.

Heartwarming patchnose snake eats leopard frog

*At Dreadful Acres, there are always large drainpipes around. Where else would the mosquitoes breed?


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  1. Ruby Lou

    Good shot.

    What would happen if the patch-nose snakes stopped eating the leopard frogs?

  2. tinfoil hattie

    I just anthropomorphise everything. “Poor little froggie! Oh, noooooo!”

  3. Linda Morse

    When my therapist was seven years old she was walking toward the Red River that separates Oklahoma and Texas with her sister. She heard the same kind of screams and found a bull snake trying to eat the screaming frog. She said, “That snake is NOT going to eat that frog!” Her sister, (older) said, “Jana, don’t you do it!” Then my therapist grabbed the snake by the tail and swung it around her head like a lasso. The snake finally coughed up the frog, which went flying in one direction. She let go of the snake, which went flying off in the opposite direction. Done deal. I am amazed that a seven-year-old would even think to do such a thing! Now it is 50 years later…and she collects frogs (not the real ones).

  4. Lidon

    Whether it’s an elephant, buffalo, or little froggie getting eaten alive, nature is pretty brutal. I think Denver is as countrified as I’m willing to get.

    @ Linda: I came across a hummingbird protecting her nest from 3 hawks. My only interference, although unintentional and not nearly as dramatic, involved me simply walking by which ended up scaring the hawks away.

  5. David

    The scream is quite likely to be a survival strategy, as Linda’s story demonstrates. A snake engaged in swallowing a frog isn’t best placed to defend itself from predators attracted by the screams, and one less snake means a greater chance of survival for all the swallowed frog’s relatives (who are likely to be nearby). So think of the scream as the frog’s revenge……

  6. Friend of Snakes

    Them’s some good eatin. I hear. Not that I’d know personally, of course.

    Is the paucity of comments for this post due to the disgust of the Bambiologists hereabouts? I can’t say I like the brutality of the tableau (and hey, couldn’t you have pulled that long black distraction out of the center of the shot?), but I think the snapshot’s mighty fine. Mostly one sees prettily-posed photos of snakes since it’s hard to find such secretive creatures going about their daily lives, much less catch them out doing something like snagging a meal.

    P.S. Honestly, I hate being all finger-wagging up in here, but your heartwarming patch-nose snake is in actuality a heartwarming garter snake, Thamnophis-something-or-other. Maybe an eastern black-necked garter snake.

    P.P.S. Thank the lard you’re giving that boring old feminist crap a rest for a while.

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