The dark side – frogs eating frogs

July 3, 2010

There is evil lurking in the shadows. No wait, that’s just a killer frog.

Until recently I thought all that bullfrogs had to fear were birds, snakes and the occasional snapping turtle. Wow. Was I wrong. To my more squeamish readers, don’t scroll down and just stop now. You’re welcome.

During Thursday’s visit to Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, I noticed an abundance of American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana), but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

In the middle of my trip, while watching a Green Heron, commotion at the base of nearby cattails caught my attention. As I glanced, I saw a leaping creature that appeared at first to be a rat or a muskrat. That guess was based mainly on the sheer size.

As I quickly discovered, one bullfrog had ended up headfirst in the mouth of another and the two amphibians, each about the size of a softball, were locked together. Within seconds, one frog had the upper hand in the situation. It wrapped its arms around its victim and pulled in tight, shoving the meal closer.

The victim, struggling to escape, wriggled a single arm exposed from the mouth of its attacker and kicked its legs.

Soon, the mass began to roll around as an unrecognizable tangle of struggling limbs.

When it finally came to a rest, the cannibal frog had seemingly folded its victim in half in its mouth.

After a few seconds where it was obviously applying a great deal of pressure, both with its jaw and pressing with its arm, the frog relaxed. It seemed he’d accomplished his evil task. There was no more movement from its victim.

Slowly, the frog turned its back to me and sprawled out on all fours, as if to rest before even trying to swallow enough to close its jaw.

If I hadn’t seen it, I never would have believed it.

This crazy sighting led me to do a little digging about frogs eating other frogs.

Although there isn’t a ton of information, I did manage to find this one tale from England – “It’s a frog-eat-frog world“. That case involved two different types of frogs, while my observation represented, to the best of my knowledge, the same species. (It could also be possible that the victim was a Green Frog, Rana clamitans)

A National Geographic piece concluded “Bullfrogs Eat Everything” and provided some more details on frog cannibalism.

Okay, enough depression for one day. After reading, did you know frogs could be cannibals?

2 Responses to “The dark side – frogs eating frogs”

  1. I’ve seen a dead bullfrog with another frog in its stomach — but I can’t believe you caught one in the act! Very cool!

  2. […] I can’t quite look at them the same way after watching a frog eat a frog on my last visit. […]

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