Hungry Cottonmouth Vomits 2 Garter Snakes and a Frog in Incredible Photo

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: April 28, 2023
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Key Points:

  • This article covers an image of a cottonmouth snake vomiting two snakes and a frog in this amazing event.
  • Snakes are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever they can when they can.
  • While under anesthesia, the snake ended up vomiting the contents of its stomach.

Snakes are some of the most voracious eaters in the world. As scary as they may be to some, they also provide a key component for any ecosystems in which they live: rodent control. In a few recently captured photos, we get to see just how wild and varied the diets of snakes can be!

The Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation clinic, which is located off the North Carolina coast, recently stumbled upon one of the coolest things in the world snakes. While out walking, someone noticed a snake caught in a thornbush. Upon closer inspection, they realized that the snake was a highly venomous cottonmouth that was severely injured from trying to get loose from the thorns.

Once the rehab clinic took the snake back, they discovered something rather wild. The snake had multiple, deep lacerations across its body that looked to be the result of its struggle to escape the razor-sharp thorns. Placing it under anesthesia, they began to sew the wounds closed. While under anesthesia, however, the snake ended up vomiting the contents of its stomach on the table for everyone to see.

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Head shot of a garter snake flicking its tongue

The cottonmouth had two garter snakes, which are non-venomous, in its digestive system.

©Natalia Kuzmina/

The stomach contents of the snake were nothing short of amazing, while also being a bit gross! This cottonmouth was in the middle of digesting two snakes and a frog, all at once! Looking at the photos, we can determine the kinds of snakes and the frog that it had eaten.

The two species of snake in the cottonmouth’s stomach can easily be identified as garter snakes, although one is much smaller than the other. Garter snakes are harmless snakes that live almost everywhere in the United States. They mostly eat insects and smaller reptiles, although larger garter snakes can eat small rodents. The frog was a leopard frog, as can be seen from its unique spotted pattern.

Cottonmouths are commonly seen aquatic snakes that live in the southeastern region of the United States. Aside from being some of the largest snakes in the region, they are also among the most venomous. Cottonmouths belong to the pit-viper family and are related to copperheads and rattlesnakes. Overall, cottonmouths are usually placed in between copperheads and rattlesnakes when it comes to how dangerous their venom is. Regardless, you don’t want to be bitten by one!

A Northern Leopard Frog is sitting on a gravel path basking in the sun.


frogs have smooth, yellowish-green skin and large, oval dark spots on their backs and legs.

©Paul Reeves Photography/

Cottonmouths will eat pretty much anything, but their favorite foods include frogs, fish, smaller snakes (even other cottonmouths), birds, small mammals, and almost anything else. With a quick strike, they are able to tag their prey with their potent venom and subsequently kill it. Although it won’t normally kill a human, it’s plenty strong enough to kill small animals!

Unfortunately, a lot of fear surrounds cottonmouths, and they are often killed on sight by humans. This is detrimental to the species, but also to the ecosystems in which these snakes are found. Within a few short months, a cottonmouth can easily eat a few pounds of prey, keeping their population in check. Too many frogs making noise in your neighborhood pond? Maybe it’s time for an apex predator!

Thankfully, the cottonmouth that was rescued in the photos fully recovered and was later released (hopefully with a good meal)!

It is Normal for Snakes to Eat Multiple Meals?

Yes, it is normal for snakes to eat multiple meals. Snakes are often opportunistic feeders, and they may consume several smaller prey items over a period of time, or they may eat one larger meal. This feeding pattern varies among species, but it is a common behavior for many types of snakes.

The number of prey items a snake can eat at once depends on the size of the snake and the size of the prey. Generally, snakes can consume prey that is equal to or slightly larger than their girth.

So, a larger snake may be able to eat multiple smaller prey items, or one larger prey item, whereas a smaller snake may only be able to eat one or two smaller prey items at a time.

It’s also worth noting that some species of snakes, such as constrictors, are able to consume large prey items by first killing and then swallowing their prey whole. So, a constrictor snake may be able to eat one large prey item, such as a small mammal, in a single meal.

This Cotton Mouth Moccasin was found stuck in a thorn bush of some type. She had multiple lacerations. They were…

Posted by Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation on Monday, November 16, 2020

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jay Ondreicka/

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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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