Nature is not fair. A lot of people have this naive perception of nature as a magical place where lions lay with lambs and everything is always happy. Animal rights groups demand the humane treatment of animals, when the worse human treatment would be on par with the natural world. Nature is ruthless. Animals die, and when they die it is usually not a quick and painless death. Those who can stay alive long enough to pass on their genes continued the population. This competition between life and death is not just an important idea of evolution it is reality. Nature is not a bubbly movie about a bunch of animal friends it is a blood, tooth and claw fight to the bitter end, the end being one’s ability to mate. I guess it could be worse…
Garter Snakes lack venom and they don’t constrict; instead the simply bite their prey and swallow it whole, usually still alive. The prey is slowly consumed as the snake ratchets its teeth towards its throat. My backyard has a small vernal pond that serves as the breeding site for 4 species of frog and one species of toad. The first frogs to arise in the spring are the Western Chorus Frogs, a bite sized treat for a groggy Garter Snake. The frogs congregate into a breeding frenzy or from the snakes perspective, an amphibian buffet.
I found this Garter Snake slipping between the cattails in the pond filled with Chorus Frogs. For early April the snake was surprisingly plump. His stomach certainly contains those frogs who have lost their battle to survive. Their energy is not used by the snake for its own fight to breed. (I’m thinking Highlander, I don’t know why…)
Garter Snakes are commonly found in or around water. They will prey on minnows, frogs, earthworms or any other wrigglely think they think they can get in their mouths. Because they do not have venom or constrict, they must strike quickly and cleanly if they are to capture their prey. Slippy frogs and slimy slugs offer tough resistance to even the most sly of snakes.
Garter Snakes get their name from the white-yellow stripes running the length of their body. These stripes are said to resemble a woman’s garter. They are NOT Gardener Snakes or Garden Snakes, they are much more risqué than those commonly misused names.
Up Next: Frog Sex Party