Last week while working along the driveway I saw a yellow-bellied racer swallowing a leopard frog. Hopefully, the photos won’t be too upsetting because much of Nature is about eat or be eaten. It’s a compelling imperative.

It took the snake about 20 minutes to completely swallow the frog. The yellow-bellied racer is the only racer snake we have in Oklahoma. It’s a subspecies of the black racer of the East Coast.

Racers are slender snakes that hunt during the daytime. That’s because they have acute vision which they use in hunting, all the while keeping their heads high above the ground in order to see around. I’m always amazed at how a snake can “unhinge” its jaw in order to swallow something much larger than its mouth, the frog being an example.

Actually, a snake’s jaw doesn’t detach. Rather, the tendons, muscles and ligaments of the loosely hinged jaw allow for great flexibility. There’s probably a life lesson there about tackling a really big challenge. What’s even more remarkable is that the two halves of the lower jaw work independently to move the frog down the throat.

I’m also stunned that frogs never seem to struggle. They act as though they’re paralyzed. I once watched a water snake swallow a bullfrog and while the frog was being swallowed, it kept on croaking. Nature is often very strange.

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E-mail lindsey.chastain@skiatookjournal.com

Managing Editor

Lindsey is the managing editor for the Skiatook Journal. She holds an M.A in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Prior to the start of her news career in 2011, Renuard was a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma.