Over the years I have learned that a bullfrog will pounce on ANYTHING that moves – no wonder they get so fat! My first clue was this curious scene while shooting one night during spring peeper season (April).
It was an ordinary “headlights” mugshot (or so I thought).
But when I reviewed it on my camera right after I shot it,
I noticed something sticking out of the corner of its mouth – whoa… a little frog foot? I reached out to catch this guy
and see what was going on. But I didn’t realize the
strength of a kicking bullfrog, and the capture failed in a flurry of frog legs.
When the comical scramble was over, the bullfrog had leaped off to the left, and the spring peeper had hopped
off to the right, none the worse for its brief confinement!
Peeper foot Jonah-the-Peeper, in the tank! (2004)
For several years Jonah-the-Peeper (above) was my only evidence that bullfrogs eat other frogs, but things escalated this spring (2009). Apparently size doesn’t matter when it comes to a bullfrog meal!
It was a noisy tree frog night in May, and I went out to find them – but I wasn’t the only one hunting! I noticed a bullfrog with something sticking out of its mouth... maybe a twig accidentally grabbed? I had to take several shots and enlarge them on playback before I figured out what it was …
Frog legs for dinner? Yup, Bullfrog downs a Gray Treefrog ! (2009)
I watched, spellbound – and kept shooting – and eventually she got it down! (You can tell the
gobbler is a girl because of the smaller eardrum compared to the boys.) I nearly gagged
watching this! If you look closely, you can see a little toe sticking out the other side.
The picture on the header of this page is about ten minutes later in this meal.
Tree frog toe
Frogs eat bugs, right?
Well, the food chain goes both ways… if they can’t see it, they can’t grab it. Turnabout is fair play !
(Another meaning of bug-eyed?)
(The bottom of the food chain – but of direct interest to us humans!)
The mosquito season is very short around here – about two weeks in late May. Then the tadpole population explodes, and the floating mosquito larvae become tadpole chow! No more mosquitoes for the rest of the summer. (Some tadpoles STAY tadpoles all summer – Bullfrog tadpoles overwinter in the pond and turn into frogs the next year.)
Tadpoles rising! Nibble-rings dot the pond like raindrops on a sunny day
The Mosquito Patrol
It's a big army! Obviously, something eats tadpoles – if ALL these guys metamorphed, there would be a neighborhood
frog plague of biblical proportions!
Here’s a preview of a backyard research project I’ve been doing to find out what happens in that split-second kerfluffle when a bullfrog pounces.
Not exactly one of those long rubber-band rainforest frog tongues,
but… it does the job! Considering what I’ve seen these guys eat,
they NEED this “Monster Muncher” model. Instead of sitting still
and whipping out a long tongue, they POUNCE with a big open
mouth – from up to about a foot away.
I’m dying to find out if it’s sticky – or what – but I haven’t quite got
up the nerve to waggle my finger in a bullfrog’s face and get
pounced on! Someday I will, and you’ll see it here first…
(Notice the dark color of this individual – unusual.)