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Wild Kingdom

May 5th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Garter Snake Eats Tree Frog] A nature show played out - literally - at my feet, while sanding a coat a wooden checker-board table, the latest "Oop Project".

Garter Snake Devours Tree Frog

Hutton House Patio - As a small kid, I used to watch "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom", which was a staple of the airwaves from 1963 till sometime in the early 1970's. Marlin Perkins was the host and I remember that it used to come on at 7 to 7:30 PM on Sundays, right before "Walt Disney". (Disney was the show we used to watch, but more times than not, we caught "Wild Kingdom", either in part or whole).

Nostalgia welled up today, as I was out in the bright sunshine - the nicest spring day we've had thus far on Vancouver Island - sanding an IKEA table for the Oop. (I've made a checker-board top on the table and will share the details in an upcoming article).

The project requires a fair number of coats of polyurethane and I was busy sanding the latest coat, trying to smooth the surface and preparing for another coat (the 5th so far).

As I was sanding, I happened to look up and noticed a garter snake on the concrete driveway pad. He acted as though he was looking for something and since he was only a matter of a few feet from me, I stopped what I was doing to watch him.

He headed toward the small herb garden and I thought he'd be glad to get off the exposed, hard concrete and expected him to disappear into the bush. He didn't. He came back onto the concrete and went behind me.

Turning around, I saw him lift his entire head off the concrete by a good few inches. "He's looking for something," I thought.

Sure enough ... a small tree frog, also on the concrete pad, began hopping away, heading for the herb garden. The snake lit out after the frog very quickly, but not before the frog hopped into a bush. The snake stopped, after reaching the same bush and remained very still. It was fascinating to watch the snake hunt.

Neither the snake nor the frog moved for the better part of a minute. Then, the frog hopped out from its hiding place and bounded across the concrete, heading straight for me. The snake followed and about 12 inches from my shoe, the snake caught the frog!

The garter snake wasted no time about consuming the frog - whole of course - and in less than a minute, it was a lump in the snake's throat. The garter snake wiped his face on the concrete, using it like a napkin and then began twisting its body to "push" the frog further down it's gullet. Soon after devouring the frog, the snake began moving in my direction and actually crossed my foot!

I wasn't sure if the snake had plans to find a spot up my pant leg, so I tapped my foot, which startled the snake and it headed straight for the herb garden, having gone from predator to prey in a second flat. Once in the herb garden, the snake turned back and eyed me, as I went back to my sanding. Eventually, he disappeared into the forest duff, beyond the garden.

At the Hutton House, it's not just 'sanding a project', but rather 'a nature show', quite literally, at your feet!

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Updated: 21-May-2008
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1.flag Gary Comment
You have it all happening out there Scott, Do you see these snakes regular? or is this a one off?

I bet you are glad it didn't shoot up your trouser leg, it might of been more than a frog it had for its lunch ;)

I didn't know you had IKEA in your country, have you ever had something to eat there ? The meatballs and boiled potatoes are SUPERB! and very reasonably priced.

Have fun in the sun, we are forecasted really good weather here this week, as high as late 70's they say (which is good for us this time of year)

Gz :D
2.flag stk Comment
Gary - Once it warms up, the garter snakes come out in force (they hibernate all winter). I bet I could scare up a dozen, easy, with a walk in the pasture. They also hang out in the garden near the house, which drives the cat nuts ... he'll watch "his" garden, just off the patio, for hours and pounce when he sees movement. (Hasn't caught one yet, to my knowledge ... but we did get a dead mouse as a pressie on the front doorstep the other day). :p

There's 2 IKEA's in Vancouver, but none on the Island, that I'm aware of (might be one down around Victoria - nope). With a $128 ferry ride + 45 minute drive, it's a tad far to go for a meal, but yeah ... know they have cheap, good meals there. We used to stop in at the store in Edmonton, as it was on the way to the airport.