Friday, August 28, 2015

Snake vs Frog

Garter snake eats frog ~ photo by Carrie Kerr
I've got a couple garter snakes living in my garden. They hide amongst the tall grass and weeds, and snuggle beneath the mulch when it gets too hot. I like having them around because they are marvelous at pest control. Garter snakes eat slugs, snails, insects, and earthworms. Sometimes they'll eat other snakes and even frogs and toads.

Every now and then I find toads and frogs hanging out beneath the cabbages or in the beans. They are usually far, far away from the snakes.

But the other day, my friend Carrie found both together in her garden. She says the meeting, while beneficial for the snake, didn't end so well for the frog.

On the other hand, it looks like the snake may have bitten off more than it can chew... the frog is more than a mouthful. How can a thin garter snake eat something so much larger than its head?

The trick is in the jaw. Unlike us, snakes have jaws with joints at the front. These joints - and the hinges at the back where they articulate with the skull - are connected with tendons and ligaments that stretch, allowing them to take enormous bites. For this snake, eating a frog would be like you trying to stuff an entire watermelon into your mouth.

You can find out more about Eastern Garter snakes here and here. And you can read more about snakes here.


  1. Once saw two snakes eating the same frog. One from the rear feet end and one from the head end. When they met in the middle of the frog the larger of the two snakes who opened his jaws a bit more than the other snake, continued on swallowing both the frog and his smaller cousin. It took over a week for the last bit of tail to disappear down the winning snakes throat.

    1. Wow! That's a cool story I need to share with my second graders. Thanks, Lou!

    2. That is a cool story. I bet that big snake didn't eat again for a month.

  2. Yikes! That's quite a picture. I had no idea snakes could eat frogs. I always learn something here. Thanks for the post.

  3. Great comparison with the watermelon!