Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nature's Way

My little pool beside the porch has been a continuing source of curiosity this summer.  It all began when I decided to put a plastic garden pond into service instead of letting it get brittle in the sun.  So, MM and I dug out a wee spot for it and I filled it with water.  It sat there for quite awhile before I noticed that it had a frog in it.  One frog.  Only.  I was thrilled!  At least the pool had one living soul.  Little did I know that was the beginning of a population explosion.  Before long I had three frogs.  Soon, there were six. Lounging space among the water weeds became scarce.   MM was sure I was exaggerating the numbers as I kept announcing the procession of increases.  Twenty.  Thirty-seven.  Forty-one.  Forty-one frogs had found this paradise. 
And then.....things changed.   
"Do garter snakes eat frogs," I asked MM.
"I dunno," he said.  And thereupon, nowadays, offered his standard answer:  "Look it up on the Net."  And there it technicolor.  OMG!  (not my photo above, but the best of the descriptive views on Google images.)  The garter snake had discovered the joys of an all-it-could-eat buffet, and it was cleaning up.
"How many frogs have you got today?"  MM asked a few days later. 
"Thirty," I replied. 
"I thought you had something like 40.."
"I did." 
Three days later the numbers were in the mid-twenties.  And they plummeted with each passing day.  I would check several times throughout the day, and more often than not, a snake was there, watching....waiting
Then I noticed that the size of the snake kept changing.  One day it was big.  Next day it was small.  Of course I'd never heard of a snake changing sizes.  Apparently the buffet concept had wide appeal.  I now had TWO snakes skulking around the rim of the pool.    
"Do garter snakes swim?"  I asked MM. 
"I dunno....look it up--"
"...on the 'Net."
Sure enough.  Snakes swim just fine.  That explained the snake's head that was lurking a little while later, (seemingly body-less) amongst the water weeds I saw the following day.  The snake was fast even in the water.  It lunged.  Fifteen frogs left and counting.... 
The numbers have levelled out some now.  Maybe a balance of some kind has been reached.  OTOH, the snakes haven't given up their quest.  They're still there lurking in the rocks and fringes of the pool.
It doesn't feel like I should interfere with Nature's drama, here.  So, I watch.  This morning, two snakes were visible at different times, both tried but failed to snag a frog. One snake is about half the size of the other.   No big bulge in the middle of either of the snakes, as was the case the first time I saw one nab a frog.  Instead they crawled out of the pool, having missed lunch, and one took up a spot to wait for the next meal coming its way.  The other worked its way back into the rockpile and disappeared (for the moment.) 
It's been a fascinating spectacle.  A little grisly, granted, but still it's a deadly unfolding drama as the laws of supply and demand seek to find balance.  I take full responsibility for having created this situation.  If it weren't for my artifical pond and its setting, we wouldn't be having a frog massacre.  On the other hand, maybe I am supply a needed food supply.  Either way we've either got too many frogs or too many snakes....and the beat goes on....


  1. Just remember, frogs and snakes have co-existed for millions of years. Both seem to be doing just fine or need any help from us to keep things in balance.

  2. You're absolutely right, Jim! I take too much onto myself! Right now, the snakes are busy turning frogs into snakes! I can't quite picture, though, how it would work the other way around, altho' it's said that frogs do eat snakes....hmmmmm. That's gonna be one long swallow!


  3. Hi Elora! It's been a long time! I'm sorry for my diappearing act, but things have been...not really busy but lazy ;) This is a pretty awesome story - it would be fun to observe - I've always had a soft spot for snakes :) Hope all is well with you! xo

  4. Hello Elora,
    I must say I am quite fascinated by the whole frog/snake relationship. I have a little pond also, each year, one frog appears, and before you know it, a garter snake, and NO frog.
    I'm not a lover of snakes, and despite having lost my frog, I would rather have it that way, if the snake population would be deprived of their dinners :)
    Thay can hunt elsewhere.

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