Frogs have many natural predators in the wild, from birds to lizards and even other, larger frogs! But do snakes eat frogs, too? If so, how do they hunt frogs? Snakes are one of the most opportunistic predators in the world, after all, and they have many methods of hunting, from constriction to venom and even just plain ambushing their prey. Frogs seem as if they’d be a natural inclusion to snakes’ massive menu.
Read on as we discover the many kinds of snakes that make frogs part of their diet below.
What Kinds of Snakes Eat Frogs?
Of the 4,000+ species of snakes on Earth, all of them are obligate carnivorous and eat some kind of animal matter. Not all of them specifically seek out frogs to eat, but many of them do and will absolutely eat frogs if they come across any in the wild. Water snakes, such as brown, green, and banded water snakes especially love eating frogs.
Snakes are highly opportunistic predators with a long list of prey animals they regularly hunt in the wild. Some prefer to stick to warm-blooded prey like rodents and birds, while others enjoy cold-blooded prey like lizards, frogs, fish, insects, and, yes, frogs! Many species don’t discriminate at all between their prey, meaning they freely feed upon virtually any animals small and tasty enough to get in their mouths.
Almost any snake will technically eat a frog if it’s convenient enough and the snake is hungry enough. However, certain species prefer eating amphibians a lot more than others. Water snakes and snakes that live near water feed on frogs regularly simply because there’s such an abundance of frogs in their natural habitats.
Water snakes include the following species:
- Banded water snakes
- Green water snakes
- Brown water snakes
- Diamondback water snakes
- Common water snakes
- Salt marsh snakes
- Plainbelly water snakes
Additionally, plenty of snakes that don’t live in water permanently but dwell near bodies of water also feed on frogs regularly. These include species such as:
- Hognose snakes
- Garter snakes
- Various pit viper species
- Grass snakes
- Various python species
Some of the most common kinds of frogs that snakes eat include bullfrogs, common frogs and toads, pool frogs, and leopard frogs. Snakes eat both semi-aquatic and fully aquatic frogs in large numbers in various habitats and biomes.
How Do Snakes Hunt Frogs?
Snakes hunt frogs in a few unique ways, from injecting powerful venom to constricting them to simply swallowing them whole. Most are ambush predators that use scent and body heat to track and stalk nearby prey animals. Snakes are very skilled at stalking and ambushing their prey in near silence, in many cases taking a mere fraction of a second to incapacitate most prey animals.
Sadly, frogs lack many defenses when it comes to snake attacks. Their main two defense mechanisms are camouflage and poisonous skin, and some snakes have evolved to develop resistances to frogs’ skin toxins!
Some snakes, like pit vipers, inject their prey with fast-acting venom. Other snakes like boas constrict and suffocate their prey by coiling their muscular bodies around them. Incredibly, some use a combination of the two methods, while plenty of other species use neither and simply ambush, bite, and swallow their prey whole. Regardless of the method they use, snakes are experts at taking down frogs in the wild with ease.
Incredibly, snakes don’t even chew their food! In fact, they don’t even have to, thanks to their mouths’ and stomachs’ powerful digestive enzymes. Once a snake has swallowed their prey, they will use their strong muscles to move the animal down their digestive tract, secreting those enzymes all the while. The prey then gets rapidly broken down by those enzymes–horrifically, sometimes while still alive and conscious–and digested.
Frogs make an especially convenient and tasty meal for snakes, since they are so soft-bodied yet high in protein. Combined with their lack of reliable defenses, most frogs don’t stand a chance against snakes in the wild.
Can You Feed Frogs to Pet Snakes?
While you technically can feed wild frogs to pet snakes, this is highly inadvisable for a few important reasons. First, feeding live prey to snakes in captivity in general is dangerous and largely considered by most reptile hobbyists to be unnecessarily cruel to both animals involved. Additionally, many wild animals carry harmful diseases and parasites or are coated in pesticides.
Feeder animals like frozen mice and rats or feeder insects are much more preferable, as they are bred in captivity for the specific purpose of being fed to pet reptiles. People who breed feeder animals for reptiles breed them in carefully controlled conditions where the chance of parasites, pesticides, or diseases is very low.
Additionally, feeding live animals to snakes is generally frowned upon by most reptile experts and hobbyists. Snakes often sustain painful bites and scratches in the process of feeding. While this is just part of the feeding process for snakes in the wild, in captivity, it is easily avoided. Offering live animals to pet snakes is also extremely messy as opposed to safely offering them thawed, humanely killed feeder rodents.
Overall, it’s best to avoid offering any kind of live animals to your pet snakes, including frogs. The risk involved isn’t worth it, and the clean-up process can be pretty gruesome.
Do Any Frogs Eat Snakes?
Most frogs are far too small and weak to prey upon snakes. However, a few larger species of frogs sometimes will feed upon smaller snakes, especially baby snakes, if they come across them in the wild. In particular, many species of bullfrogs will eat snakes when it is convenient for them or if they find an unattended nest of newly-hatched baby snakes. The largest bullfrogs in the world can reach up to 7 pounds, giving them the size to hunt snakes.
While the majority of frogs aren’t quite daring enough to try, a handful of species are actually able to take down smaller snakes quite efficiently. Frogs will often simply bite at anything that comes close enough to get into their large, wide mouths, and in some cases, this includes snakes!
Some of the species that are large and strong enough to feed on snakes include horned frogs, bullfrogs, and goliath frogs. Usually, though, they much prefer to feed on smaller animals, like fish, lizards, and insects. While frogs can technically eat snakes, most snakes put up a fight that makes them too much of a hassle for the typical frog to bother with.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/passion4nature
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