Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Garter Snake Ingests Toad (*Not for the faint of heart!)



I've been trying to think of a way to share this post without 'grossing' anyone out...but I don't think that's possible. So if you choose to read this, be forewarned there will be some photos of blood and guts. The garden is always full of surprises, and this afternoon, no one was more surprised than my son and me when we watched a garter snake completely ingest a fairly large toad! We had just taken our two dogs out when my son saw the dog jump back; then he saw the snake. We both walked closer and saw that it had part of a frog in it's mouth. I have to admit, my first thought was to try and save the frog. But it already had a pretty good injury, which was bleeding, so it was probably too late to do anything even if I'd wanted to. I didn't quite know, at first, what type of snake it was--even though I have seen garter snakes before. It was light green with a black checkerboard pattern. I went in and grabbed my camera and had my son check online for an ID on the snake. If it had been venomous, I contemplated getting an axe! I don't like to kill anything but a poisonous snake in my yard could test my outer limits...

Anyway, I took a series of photos of the whole event and despite the blood and gore, want to share them here. Even though I like both frogs and (most) snakes and really don't like to see them injured or killed, it was quite fascinating and educational--and honestly, just a natural part of life.  It was weird, standing there watching this helpless frog suffer, but I knew there was really nothing I could do but leave the scene, or watch and take some photos. So, for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure) I offer the following--a movie made with a string of clips, using Picasa. You can stop the movie at any point to view individual photos (if you dare!).

 

Garter snakes are beneficial snakes to have in your garden. They are not harmful and eat a lot of pests like mice and voles. Unfortunately, every now and then, a small bird or frog falls prey. But that's life. Thanks for today!

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @ http://www.thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/
Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

41 comments:

  1. Jan, this is a truly fabulous sequence of images. I know some will find it distasteful, but this is truly nature, in the raw, and unscripted. Here our Santa Cruz and Coast Garter Snakes seem to enjoy snacking on our resident Banana Slugs, although I've never been witness to such an event. I'm sorry Mr. Toad, I appreciate your sacrifice for this post, but Jan, you captured a truly remarkable event (and apparently your snake isn't very shy)!

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  2. That is truly fascinating.

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  3. Poor toad, I wonder why he didn't just take off first. Great shots, and very interesting to see. It's probably something most of us won't see in real life.

    Thanks for braving the Yuck at Hearts, and showing us.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  4. Holy moly, that's incredible. I tried not to think about the poor toad, but I'm glad you are lucky enough to have a garter snake keeping things in balance. Nature at work, it is.

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  5. WOW! What an experience to witness. I am amazed that the snake wasn't scared away by you but obviously it was more concerned about getting a meal. Super series of shots! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Wow! The rattlesnake featured on my blog recently was hunting a rat...I watched him stalk it for a while until my neighbor came and relocated the snake. I thought I really wanted to witness it capture the rat but now I'm kind of glad I didn't. You've got some amazing shots here but I can see why you put them in a separate link...it's much more gruesome(but fascinating)than I imagined.

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  7. Jan,

    Very cool images! I have only seen a garter snake with a frog only once and it was an endangered species of frog in AZ I forgot the name.

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  8. As a child, I had a young boa constrictor who ate live mice. It was very interesting to watch...disturbing at times...but very interesting. I don't think you could have scared the snake. They seem to go into a trance once they have hold of their prey. This was a fascinating video capture...thank you for sharing your backyard nature scenes with us.

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  9. This really was a remarkable capture. I have never seen a snake with its prey in person, so I can imagine your excitement. For all the people who were upset by little spiders, this should really give a few the willies.

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  10. Was the toad alive the whole time???

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  11. I have only intervened once during a snake digestion. The poor frog was squelling so loudly and so un-frog like that I had to stop the snake. Unlike yours the frog was in pretty good shape and hopped away after I shook it free. I hope the snake found another meal, but out of earshot and out of sight.

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  12. Oh Jan! Sheesh! Once I saw the blood that was it. No more. This would be a good educational tool. You did a great job with it. Sorry I couldn't appreciate it more.

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  13. Oh boy! I did watch, dear Jan. I am a wise woman and know this is nature ... but have a huge fear of snakes, even Garter snakes (and can't believe in all my years of Michigan gardening have yet to see one in my garden ... enough to make me never again venture out). So my heart was with the toad that I do love and delight me whenever I see them. I do so wish I had Clare's heart! She said it well ... and yes, it was an interesting post!

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  14. Ugh! Poor toad! He looks so resigned to his fate. I occasionally get hawks that carry off birds from my garden and while I feel horrible for the victim, the hawk has a belly to fill, too.

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  15. I can't believe I watched the whole thing! EEEEWWW! Kind of cool, but EEEWWWW!

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  16. I don't know if I should be grateful or not but the video was "currently unavailable". I recently watched one of our hens catch a mouse and before I could do anything it was swallowed. The only evidence of what had happened was the tail sticking out of the beak. That's nature...

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  17. Like Janet, the video was also currently unavailable when I tried to view it. That's okay. I'll use my imagination:)

    Nothing boring about your backyard and it seems you have your eyes and ears tuned in to what's happening around you at all times.

    Jan, you've been such a loyal blogger friend and I appreciate it. I totally relate to the focus issues when it comes to sorting through all the photos.

    Happy day to you.

    donna

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  18. Fascinating, Jan. Although difficult to watch it is indeed simply nature doing what nature does. An incredible learning experience for you both, certainly. Poor froggie, though.

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  19. I'm glad you appreciate this, Claire. It isn't usually my style for this blog, but it's a fascinating sequence to learn about nature-in-the-raw, as you say.

    Thanks Jen, glad you found it interesting;-)

    Thanks, Meredith. I almost couldn't take the photos, but there was nothing I could do but walk away otherwise, and I wanted to see something I'd never seen before.

    Thanks, Karin. Glad you enjoyed it. The snake was really focused on the 'task at hand' and didn't budge; plus, I had my zoom lens so I didn't have to be right up in it's face;-)

    Thanks, Cat. It is gruesome and yet, fascinating...so I'm glad you found it interesting. I will have to visit your blog to see your Rat Snake. I would be happy to have a snake take care of a rat. That would leave a much larger lump in it's tummy;-)

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  20. Hi Randy, I bet you weren't sure what you should do, knowing you were watching the snake devour an endangered species! I've never seen a garter snake eat anything...slug, bug, or otherwise, so this was certainly a surprise!

    Hi Michelle, since you grew up w/a snake, you already understood how gruesome, yet fascinating, this process can be. So glad you enjoyed viewing the circle of life!

    Hi Donna, glad you were able to see this in the positive light that it was intended. Yes, some people who can't handle spider will not be able to even touch this. But for those who can, it's a natural and normal part of life;-)

    Yes, Benjamin, I do believe the toad was alive for most of the event. That was actually the toughest part for me to handle as I watched. I wanted to save it, try to help it...but just allowed myself to be an onlooker because this happens in nature all the time and who am I to intervene? Plus, the toad had already been injured seriously by the time we saw it, so to stop the process would not have prevented the toads death.

    Hi Les, this frog made no noise so at least I didn't have to have my heart-strings pulled any tighter by that. I might have left the area had that been the case.

    That's ok, Grace. I'm glad you can at least appreciate the education value of this. Many people cannot deal with blood, etc, and you can still understand and appreciate nature and all that it encompasses;-)

    Thanks, Joey;-) I hope you'll never see a garter snake, if it would make you stop gardening! But on the other hand, they are not at all dangerous to humans or pets...they have no venom. I'm glad you were able to watch and find it interesting. Yes, it was difficult, but I knew my gardening friends would understand.

    Hi Tammy, the poor frog really had no choice, as the snake had quite a grip on him and had punctured him quite deeply. The process lasted much longer than the movie clips show. That was difficult, standing there for it all. I actually walked away at one point and when I came back, the snake had almost devoured the whole thing. I'm sorry we haven't managed a get-together yet. I've been busy and today is my son's h.s. orientation, then we're going to my mom's for the wkend. Some wkend we should just meet for lunch, if nothing else;-)

    Hi Toni--thanks for braving it out. It's something that has an 'approach-avoidance' quality to it; you don't really want to watch, but you're curious. It has a big ewww value to it--but life isn't all sunshine and roses;-)

    Janet, I don't have hens, but I'm sure that was a surprise to see the tail! As you said though, these are creatures that have natural instincts and do these kinds of things! The link to the movie might be fixed now, if you want to try again. I re-uploaded it and hope it works now.

    Hi Donna, as I mentioned to Janet, I think the link is working now--if you want to give it a try. Otherwise, your imagination may be all you need! Thanks so much for your thoughtful words;-) I've not been a good blogger or blog visitor this summer. I 'hope' to do more in the future, but right now just staying connected occasionally is better than nothing. You have a happy day, too;-)

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  21. Hi Debbie, I'm glad you were able to watch and appreciate, even though it brings about mixed feelings. I agree about the frog, I love frogs and enjoy having them in my back yard! But who's to say garter snakes don't deserve to live here, too?! My son had never seen anything like this, either. Yes, it was quite a learning experience;-)

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  22. Fascinating. Difficult to watch, but I watched the whole thing. As you say, that's life -- in all its rawness. If people in general had to see life and death experiences like this more often in our everyday experience (if we had to slaughter our own meat, for example), we might be a little more respectful of the circle of life.

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  23. Ewww! Sorry I could not watch this I hate snakes. LOL! I know it is just survival in nature but the snake would not have survived in my garden. LOL!

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  24. Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens9/1/11, 3:14 PM

    Jan, for some reason there is just a blank space where the video should be or am I missing something? My son and I watched a water snake eat a huge goldfish/koi at a local college. It was a very slow process and pretty fascinating. Carolyn

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  25. Thanks for your comment, Helen...and happy you thought it was interesting. Not sure most of us want to see 'life and death' experiences on a regular basis, but once in a while is educational and healthy, I think. Yes, a healthy respect for nature can be gained through this, I agree;-)

    Lona, sorry you're not a fan of this type of thing but thanks for coming by and leaving a comment;-)

    Carolyn, I don't know what the problem is with this movie format in Picassa. This is the 2nd time the link has just 'died', after having worked for quite a while both times. I will attempt to add the link again...but I have no idea how long it will last. Maybe there's something else I should be doing, I don't know. I've never made a movie before...Thanks for stopping by;-)

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  26. Hi Jan. I've watched similar things in my yard before. Frogs and toads do seem to remain alive during most of it, which is hard to believe. I know in some of the instances that I have watched, they HAVE been alive because the toads have "cried" almost the whole time, which is really disturbing. Great shots!

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  27. I skipped the video, Jan--I'm a little squeamish:) But as you say, it's part of nature, disturbing as it may be. I had somewhat of a similar experience tonight as I sat outside and notice two cardinals creating an uproar. Then came our cat--sure enough, he had a baby bird in his mouth. Toby usually likes a little evening stroll outside and though he stalks birds, I've never seen him actually catch one before. I managed to get the baby and put it in a shrub out of reach, but I'm afraid it may have been too late. I couldn't help feeling sorry for Mama and Papa Cardinal, though.

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  28. Yeah, definitely difficult to watch but fascinating at the same time. We recently witnessed a chipmunk dying right outside our dining room window. Alas, it was too late for us to save him. His brother (or sister) tried to revive him to no avail. Sad, but part of nature...

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  29. That picture can get you an offer from the people at National Geographic - its amazing!
    I feel sorry for the Toad but obviously, that's life, and food cycle. I mean how many shed tears or sympathise with the hapless chicken or lamb that forms a part of gourmet meal for most of us.
    I couldn't see the video, and will keep checking the blog to catch it when you reload it, but I sure admire your guts to have captured a snake at work from so close.

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  30. The expression on the little frog's face in the still picture is just heart-breaking.

    The video wasn't available to me, but the dog and I once watched a snake swallow a frog. This year I watched a bigger rat snake swallow a squirrel -- pics on my blog -- and then I documented a rat snake climb a rose cane to get at a nest of mockingbirds. Nature is full of sad occasions.

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  31. Great capture of nature, Jan. I saw a garter snake eating a much smaller toad 2 weeks ago but did not have my camera with me. I'm so glad you posted about this.
    Heather

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  32. Jan, I found it absolutely phenomenal that the snake could swallow that toad! Would not want my foot near him. ;)

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  33. Amazing... simply amazing.

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  34. That was so gross, but at the same time it was fascinating to see. As someone who loves nature photography, I appreciate your thrill of the capture!

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  35. That was so gross Jan, but I just had to watch. And I couldn't look away! Had to show hubby too, so cool!

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  36. So cool!! Animal kingdom in your backyard. Great capture.

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  37. Dear Jan, Nature seems to be so cruel sometimes, doesn't it? This morning, I saw a neighbor's cat catch and carry off the chipmunk that lives under my back porch. I didn't dare tell my grandchildren who are staying with me this weekend -- they named the chipmunk Theodore. I do encourage the cat because it is a very good hunter keeping the mice population down in the barn. Your video is amazing and repulsive at the same time. P. x

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  38. Good gracious snakes alive! What an amazing thing to capture and share. Nature in action is mesmerizing, whether it's a beautiful waterfall, or the reality of the food chain in action.

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  39. Wow! I can't believe you got to observe this. Not sure if I could have taken pictures of the whole process, but it's very interesting!! Thanks for sharing!

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  40. Poor toad. I also came from a garter snake site where I've also seen a frog being ingested by one: http://www.gartersnake.org/

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Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!

Jan

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