The Food Chain
  What's for dinner?
Your Subtitle text
  




... but mostly they're
    just plain funny !



The pond animals must eat to stay alive, and they are NOT all vegetarians!  As in any wild community, animals eat other animals. Occasionally I stumble upon an interesting
gastronomic event. 

It's a jungle out there!





For an interesting little mystery related to who's eating whom, visit the Scarface page.




Hop down to the story

                   Jonah-the-Peeper


                 
                  I can't believe I ate ...


                  
                   Tables turned



                   Tables REALLY turned!


  
                   Mosquito control



                   What the ...
                  


                   ANYTHING that moves  
 


                   A wild ride





 Bullfrogs
Pigs of the pond

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).



 

Jonah-the-Peeper


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)

 



 I can't believe I ate ...


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

 
                                                                                                                   




 Tables turned

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?)

 

 

         
   Drinkin' the Kool-Aid?                                                    Hold still... you'll just feel a little pinch...


   Double dip!




 Tables REALLY turned !

From swallower to swallowed ?

This was a cliff-hanger !

    
          Is THIS gonna work?

A 45-minute struggle!   See Dinner Tales for the whole story.





 Mosquito control

(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!





 What the ... ?

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.)



Bubblegum tongue





 ANYTHING that moves!

Sometimes I put a ruler beside a frog to show how big it is.  This beautifully spotted Big Bertha tried to eat the ruler!

                

Notice how the eye has the milky translucent "safety shade"  technically called the "nictitating membrane" pulled up over it, the whole eyeball is retracted down into the head, and the front foot is brought forward to wrangle the catch.  This is all standard procedure for the "pounce", and happens faster that you can see it.





 A wild ride

A hungry new visitor came passing through in October.  I thought I was the only one looking for "the last frog". 
Apparently not !



Watch the movie !